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Published on January 9th, 2007 | by Tom

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CES Now One Step Behind Consumers

There was a time when the Consumer Electronics Show excited the imagination with mind-boggling wizardry and gadgetry.  Not any more.  Today, CES feels like it is merely satisfying already articulated needs of the consumer, like its actually playing catch-up.  Live TV to the third screen?  Bring it on.  Slingcatcher tossing PC content to the TV, what’s the hold up?    Wireless home theater?  Ho hum.  The issue is that the Bubble Generation–30 million strong in the US alone–is a huge cadre of early adopters and trailblazers.  This generation is so comfortable with technology, so ready to embrace new things, that it is hard to wow them.  That may explain why so much media interest today has shifted over to San Francisco and Steve Job’s latest Apple revelations.  If its old hat technology (in this case long rumored), at least it has style and will be presented with panache. 

What are the implications of a more frantic new technology adoption cycle?  Let’s call it the BubbleGen Affect.  Early acceptance, fast adoption, rapid market growth. Start again.  We are now seeing entire markets born, grow, morph and sometimes die in the span of a silicon generation.  This is nose-bleed territory.

What are the ramifications for future fanny-grabs like CES?  Not clear.  After all, it will be increasingly tough to capture that "wow factor" when your customers are already clamoring for more.

As we have seen in industry after industry, the compressed time to market for new applications and features is driving a business revolution behind the scenes.  Today, Moore’s Law is accelerating in certain areas as chip generations face rising pressures to deliver more for less.  Throughout the food chain companies are struggling to balance speed with accuracy, to get next gen products to the dock before they become obsolete.  A mobile phone generation has been slashed from maybe a year to just weeks.  Laptops are in continuous release.  Web sites need to launch while still in ideation.  It is a brutal environment except for the fastest, most open (read: collaborative) companies in every sector.

What are the ramifications for future fanny-grabs like CES?  Not clear.  After all, it will be increasingly tough to capture that "wow factor" when your customers are already clamoring for more.

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