Apple is/isn’t going to CES next year!

It’s the big talk around town – will Apple attend CES next year? Some folks say “Yes! Absolutely!” others say “Never! They wouldn’t stoop so low!” Which is true? Only time will tell, but even here at Ilium Software the debate rages on. As a matter of fact, Ellen and I have a little bet going. She thinks Apple won’t be at CES next year, I say they will.

So if you’d like to hear why we differ and our arguments for and against (AND see what we’re betting!), read on after the jump! And once you read it – weigh in with your own opinions!


The Big Wager!

So here at Ilium Software we’re serious about our debates. As a matter of fact, we’re willing to put more than our credibility on the line! If Ellen is right, and Apple doesn’t go to CES, I will sing 3 showtunes (chosen by Ellen) which Ellen gets to record and do as she likes with (YouTube not excluded!) If I am right, and Apple DOES go to CES next year, Ellen will make us coffee every morning for a month!

(A little background on the bet from Ellen: Marc’s a really good singer. I always want to hear him sing, but I know that I shouldn’t ask without an excuse. I have no talents to offer for my half of the bet, so we decided on taking the role of office barista for a month would be a fair trade.)

So that’s what is at stake! Now let’s hear the arguments!

Apple Won’t Go to CES!

by Ellen Craw

Rumors abound that Apple will attend CES next year, now that they’ve announced that they won’t be at Macworld.

I say they won’t, and I’m willing to back it up with $100.

First of all, big trade shows have had their day. I was at Macworld, and didn’t even bother trying to get to the keynote – I just followed it on my iPod Touch.  And I was at CES, and it was noticeably smaller than in previous years. I watched Comdex – the previous biggest annual tradeshow in Las Vegas – go through the same cycle, and once it started getting smaller, it never recovered. Apple’s never been a company to jump on any bandwagon, especially one that’s slowing down.

Second, I have no idea what it costs to put on a display like the big companies do at the big shows, but it’s got to be a boatload. Huge booths, setup, equipment, staffing, hotels, renting the space – it doesn’t fit into the current “save money, save the planet, don’t overspend and overconsume” mentality. Apple’s already got much better ways of reaching their customers, fans and prospects, and they don’t seem to be having any problem reaching the press. They’re smart enough to know they don’t need to waste the time and money.

And finally, and most convincing, is that the reason that people seem to believe Apple will be at CES – that “Apple wants to sit amongst its competition,” just doesn’t hold water. One of Apple’s biggest strengths is that they don’t let other people define the playing fields. They make their own. Being one more big company at CES is just not Apple.

I could be wrong – I’m not the best predictor. But I’m confident enough that I’m right to make the bet.

Apple Is Going to CES!

by Marc Tassin

Next year, we can all look forward to a big Apple pavilion at CES. Don’t get too excited, though. This isn’t based on inside information or pesky “facts” but rather on my own interpretation of Apple’s recent decision to pull-out from Macworld. I think the Macworld pull-out offers a huge indicator of where we’ll see the big Apple announcements in the years to come. Here is how I came to this conclusion:

Trade Shows Have Value
Big companies are continuing to use trade shows to get the word out to consumers. This is true in almost every type of market. For smaller companies the return is questionable, but for folks like Apple I think the return in press coverage alone is pretty darn valuable. It’s a heck of a lot less expensive than a major ad campaign and it gets folks talking about you in all sorts of media outlets, ranging from personal blogs to CNET to the nightly news.

Bye Bye Inner Circle
If anything will get me flamed, it’s this one. I really question whether Apple still needs (or wants) that hardcore group of fans that line up days ahead of an announcement to see Steve Jobs. With the success of the iPod and the iPhone, Apple isn’t a fringe company anymore – they’ve landed smack dab in the middle of the mass consumer marketplace. They don’t need to count on their core inner circle to make sales or spread the word. NOTE: There is a powerful argument that this philosophy is dead wrong – other companies have taken this stance and been hurt by it. The point isn’t “This is the right choice” – the point is that I think this is the choice Apple is making.

What Does It Mean?
If trade shows are still valuable and Apple isn’t attending Macworld, this leaves three alternatives.

1 – Apple will run its own show
This seems unlikely. Running a show is a huge undertaking. It makes a LOT more sense for Apple to continue to focus on what THEY do best, and let someone else handle the trade shows.

2 – Apple won’t go to any show
As I said, I truly believe that trade shows are a valuable tool for companies. Apple DOES do a lot of mold breaking, so there is a chance that they have their own plan, but not going to ANY trade show just strikes me as unlikely at best based on the evidence for the value of tradeshows to major corporations.

and the last option (drum roll please)…

3 – Apple will go to CES
This is where I’m putting my money. Going to CES next year will signal to the world that Apple is no longer the nerdy dude in the back room. They’ve hit the big time and are a household name. Those little white earbuds are as synonymous to music as the walkman was back in its day. And with Steve Job exiting stage left, they can’t count on his sheer charisma to keep them buoyant in their own little world.

I think Apple sees that they are now a mainstream corp with a mainstream product, and they are making all the moves necessary to position themselves appropriately in the eyes of the public.

2 thoughts on “Apple is/isn’t going to CES next year!

  1. Paul H

    I wouldn’t waste any money betting on Marc’s viewpoint. Apple isn’t likely to trade apples for oranges. And they certainly haven’t just come to the realisation that “they are now a mainstream corp with a mainstream product”. The iPod delivered that particular message several years past. Rather the company, like many major corporations, has come to the realisation they don’t need any trade show as a media platform to launch product or attract publicity.

    Clearly the company wants to launch products to its own agenda, not the artificial timeline imposed by trade shows — which was its principal reason for withdrawing from Macworld. Apple has gradually (over the past three years) established its own timeframes for launches to each of its product lines, and has seen the media attend these launches and duplicate the level of coverage previously only achievable at Macworld. Thus its decision to withdraw. Hardly likely it will now move sideways into CES where it will have to compete with other manufacturers for publicity.

  2. Displays Trade Show

    I am going to take the stance that they will go this year. Even companies with the Web following of Mac can’t just back out of trade show industry all together in one swoop.

    However, I am going to say that probably within the next 3-4 years that you will see an iShow. Completely operated and run by Apple, who will charge enormous amounts of money for companies to exhibit there, but they will have to or risk the chance of being considered out of the loop.

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