Desperately Seeking...the next BIG thing; a whirlwind tour of CES

24 Jan 2008|Added Value

Observations from a whirlwind tour of CES this year left me longing for the “good old days”. That is, the days of the “big breakthrough.” It’s true that many companies deliberately schedule their big announcements outside CES to avoid getting lost in the clutter. And there are still some big initiatives going on in tech. But this seemed a year when the big stuff was an evolution of something touted in prior years (the digital home, wi-max, anywhere access, etc.). Not only did innovation appear to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary, but judging from the CES floor, the market has diverted much of its attention to accessories. It was the year of the “little stuff”.

Lots of after-market accessories like cell phone covers in myriad patterns and styles, and big booths for Body Glove and Case Logic. Whether this is due to changes in CES, a lack of big breakthroughs, or market maturation and commoditization, the result is the same. The floor of the biggest convention in Las Vegas is awash not in big tech breakthroughs, but in small attempts at “packaging” the experience.

“Packaging” in its best and broadest sense incorporates design into how products and services are positioned, expressed and delivered. When good design is truly integrated into the development of a product, we get a product that’s designed around our needs and preferred usage patterns, has a well thought-out experience (both in function and interface), and creates or enhances the experience we desire. And sometimes…just sometimes, elicits a “Wow!”

I don’t remember any big “Wow’s” this year. My experience with the new 3D technology for DVDs was…oh so Seventies. It evoked memories of seeing Andy Warhol’s (3D) Frankenstein decades ago. I got a “wow” back then, but not this time around – because even though the technology was new, the user experience was ‘same old, same old.’

So it seems “the next BIG thing” isn’t here yet. In the meantime, we can take the time between the big waves of tech breakthroughs to re-focus on the people who use the stuff. We’ve got a “limited time only” opportunity to get it right from the user perspective, to figure out what people really want to experience. Before the next BIG wave of tech innovation comes along. A user-based “breakthrough”? Now that would be a “Wow!”

prev next