'Why CES is becoming a gamble for tech companies'

TechAt CES in Las Vegas, selling trends is a gamble for tech firms as the consumerís gotten wiser and pickier. AP

In a couple of days, tech journalists and analysts from around the world will start converging at Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the largest such exposition in the world. Like most of the endeavours in the desert city that hosts CES every year, this expo is often a gamble for the large tech companies and small start-ups that vie for eyeballs there. Tech companies try to set the agenda for the rest of the year, launching their most-awaited devices. The start-ups hope their innovations will be picked up by journalists and written about, or just picked up by a larger company, which is even better. This year, the companies will showcase connected cars, smart homes, wearable devices and smarter smartphones, the only catch being that they did the same last year.

In the past few years, CES has not been able to underline what particular innovation or product would become one of the bigger trends of the year. It has tried to set the agenda for the tech year at the heavily-curated environs of the show and the resultant trends are often what the companies want you to think it will be. Often this is wishful thinking, which consumers don't want anything to do with. The guy on the street, who finally buys the gadgets, now has a mind of his own. Pampered by smart but cheap devices, he is becoming more demanding. So, for all the trumpet blowing at CES, the tech firms actually have their fingers crossed, hoping this new product finally catches the fancy of buyers. With too many launches, and too many PR pitches queering the pitch in Vegas, larger players are now patronising smaller shows like the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the IFA in Berlin and the Computex in Taiwan. It is easier for them to connect with audience at these shows than at the melee that CES is slowly becoming.

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