Why the Consumer Electronics Show Will Never be Overrated
Why the Consumer Electronics Show Will Never be Overrated
Why the Consumer Electronics Show Will Never be Overrated

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    week (January 7-11), Las Vegas hosted the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show, the
    annual trade show where tech companies present their latest gadgets and
    gizmos.  Speculation about which company
    will have the largest, sharpest, thinnest, displays or the latest bells and
    whistles for their mobile handsets dominates the tech world for weeks leading
    up to CES, and the show officially begins the conversation for consumer tech
    for the year.  Walking the convention
    center floor and playing with the newest in consumer tech is a tech
    fanboy/fangirl’s dream come true.  Public
    Knowledge sent a delegation to the show this year and was encouraged by the
    energy of the attendants not only with regard to tech devices but especially
    toward tech policy.

    were a few things that stood out at this year’s CES.  First, let’s take a look at it’s
    relevance.  For the umpteenth time, tech
    bloggers buzzed over whether or not the show is as important now as it was in
    years past and whether or not there is a need for a show that focuses on large
    tech when the trend now is toward apps over devices.  Frankly, these arguments don’t hold water.  While certain major players (Apple,
    Microsoft) may choose to remove themselves from participating in the show, and
    some years the advances in tech are less discernable than others, the Consumer
    Electronics Show remains, a large, thriving, and necessary event for several

    This show
    was a good one for 3D printing.  The
    technology is coming of age and stepping into its own.  Vendors from MakerBot
    and 3D
    had smaller booths than say Samsung and Sony but the 3D printing
    booths were always packed.  This
    technology also attracted the attention of policymakers.  FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel tweeted
    about it and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte expressed
    interest as well.  Interest in this
    technology will only grow over the near future and it wouldn’t be surprising to
    see 3D printing take a larger stage at next year’s CES.

    consumers want to utilize their technology to its fullest, unleashed,
    potential, then it is essential that tech advocates foster and develop good
    working relationships with policy makers and their staff.  Take a look at the Smart TV field.  Everyone has a smart, Internect-connected TV
    but these displays will never be truly smart without an AllVid
    solution.  Anything short of this fix is simply a
    larger, fancier, all-in-one computer monitor. 
    The Smart TV technology is ready for primetime but the policies that should
    govern this technology are far behind the times.  If consumers will ever truly have a Smart TV,
    it will be because lawmakers and regulators finally make policy more innovative
    and less restrictive.

    policy is becoming more important to CES attendees.  Today is the one-year anniversary of Internet
    Freedom Day, the day when Internet users rose up, contacted their Members of
    Congress, and told them to defeat SOPA/PIPA. 
    CES 2012 was Ground Zero for the final SOPA/PIPA opposition.  Tech enthusiasts were alarmed at how the
    poorly crafted, nontransparent legislation drafted by the content industry
    would restrict their abilities to fully utilize the Internet and their
    technologies.  Last year, CES drew over
    150,000 attendees.  It was the largest
    trade show in the world based on attendance, and the threat of SOPA/PIPA was on
    everyone’s minds.  Internet advocates and
    activists had worked for months communicating via e-mails and conference calls to
    ensure the bill’s defeat.  At CES 2012,
    these advocates and activists coalesced in person.  This year the talk was, among other things,
    making sure that a next generation SOPA/PIPA does not gain any traction or pass
    in the 113th Congress.  No one
    ever disagrees with Gigi when she suggests
    that Congress will try to introduce a SOPA/PIPA albeit in a slightly different
    .  When it happens, we will be

    highlighted the incredible disconnect between most Members of Congress and the
    technology for which they are trying to legislate.  Thankfully, more Members of Congress are
    beginning to realize this disconnect and are working to become more informed on
    the tech issues that are most important to new small businesses and innovators,
    as well as to the public.  Several
    Members and their staff flew out to Las Vegas for the show this year not just
    to see the latest in technology but to learn more about the tech community’s
    priorities so that they can create better policy that fosters American
    innovation instead of stifling it. 
    Panels on SOPA/PIPA, patents, the future of video, and the FCC were
    packed, often standing room only.  PK attended
    a speech
    Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) delivered
    where he called for a broad technology
    agenda to encourage what he calls the “freedom to compete.”  This direct interaction between policymakers
    and technology advocates, on the tech community’s home turf, is crucial.  The CES environment nurtures these developing
    relationships and will continue to play an important role for them in the

    2013 also displayed the dominance that the content industry wields over
    consumer tech.  The tech review website
    CNET (which is now owned by CBS) originally intended to present Dish
    Network’s Hopper
    set-top box with its “Best of CES” award. CBS took issue
    with this award since they have been battling Dish in court over the Hopper’s
    ability to skip commercials (on previously-recorded content) and forced CNET to
    withdraw their award.  However, the
    Hopper wasn’t just selected as a “Best of CES” candidate but instead was the
    winner of CNET’s “Best of Show” award, as voted by CNET’s editorial staff.  CBS forced CNET to withdraw the Hopper from
    consideration from the awards due to their lawsuit with Dish and forced the
    CNET staff to re-vote and select a new winner. 
    As Josh
    Topolsky writes over at The Verge
    “the news raises questions not only about CNET’s
    editorial independence… It suggests a growing influence of CBS’ corporate
    interests in editorial decisions at its digital news subsidiaries.”