Apple falls far from the CES tree

Apple's renegade stance is creating major headaches for organisers of the world's largest consumer electronics show.

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By  Aaron Greenwood Published  January 25, 2007

|~||~||~|The sheer volume of media coverage generated by this month’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is testament to how far the consumer electronics industry has penetrated mainstream society and the power of the event itself to shape consumer trends. From humble beginnings, CES has grown to become the world’s largest consumer electronics event and the leading annual forum for new consumer electronics technology releases. There is no doubt that the event shapes trends to such an extent that products that make the ‘best of’ lists typically go on to become the biggest sellers of the next 12 months. It is also a fact that every major consumer electronics vendor benefits from an association with the CES, and most are happy to boost the event for the benefit of their own interests and chief organiser, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) of America. With the exception of one. Frustrated by the purported Microsoft flag-waving that typically characterises CES, Apple has been happy to play the renegade by abandoning the pack and staging its own high-profile love-fest in San Francisco concurrent to CES in Las Vegas. Indeed, with the release of its long-awaited iPhone at this month’s MacWorld Convention, Apple upstaged just about every other manufacturer involved in CES, much to the consternation of the all-powerful CEA and some sections of the US media. Some pundits even suggested that Apple’s renegade stance by ‘boycotting’ the CES event was damaging the interests of the entire US consumer electronics industry, and called for the company to fall in and tow the CEA party line. But given the fact that Bill Gates regularly holds centre stage at CES, you can’t really blame Apple for rejecting their arguments outright. The CEA’s overwhelming lack of objectivity in this respect is alarming. The sheer tedium of Gates’ keynote address (Vista, Vista and more Vista) at this year’s CES also made Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ rival performance in San Francisco seem monumentally entertaining. The reality of Gates’ performance was a far cry from the official CES press release published post-keynote, which claimed he “electrified the CES stage”, while “more than 4000 attendees sat spellbound as he shared how the company is delivering on the promise of the ‘Connected Experience’”. Perhaps the electrical charges were being used to wake up those attendees that nodded off. Regardless, Apple will unlikely drop its renegade stance so long as Microsoft holds court at CES, and with the majority of CES vendors boasting third-party relationships with Microsoft, Apple’s strategy aimed at upstaging the event and frustrating the CEA will only intensify as the company moves to consolidate its position as a major player in the consumer electronics sector.||**||

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