One of the topics I despise the most after any show, be it CES or E3, is who “won” – as if there is some award given to the company that shouts the loudest or has the shiniest new thing. Well, I digress, I guess there is – show after show, news publications, blogs, and online personalities crown differing products as “best of show,” “best in class,” “most innovative” and so on and companies hoard them as much as possible to shout out how good their new box is. But to believe in that is to believe in the hype bubble that is CES and luckily Sony smartly didn’t play into that hand – let me explain.
I’m not here saying that Sony didn’t proudly display the ‘honors’ that were bestowed upon them, because they did. Nor am I part of the popular thought to toss around this time of the year which would have you believe that shows like CES don’t matter. However what I do firmly believe in is that a show like CES shouldn’t matter to a company who truly cares about their products and vision. Looking at the industry giant Apple, the key reason they pulled out of MacWorld many years ago wasn’t because they didn’t enjoy the free press (minus all the costs associated with putting together a show like that which isn’t cheap) that’s associated with it but because it imposed an external timeline to which they had to adhere in order to showcase new products and software. Now Apple announces keynotes when they feel confident about their product and services and even then, things can run into hiccups, like the month-plus delay of AirPods.
Show a product that’s not yet ready for prime time and you risk hurting it long before it ever makes it to consumers’ hands. And if not that, how often have we seen products from Sony be announced with much fanfare during CES, only to come to market 9 months later when a majority of the press and consumers have forgotten about them? If Sony releases a product and no one notices it, did Sony actually release it?
Instead what Sony did during CES 2017 was simple but brilliant – they used it as a venue to show off the products they already have available in the market and emphasized their strength along side a few product reveals like the gorgeous 4K X1E OLED TV. This not only puts the spotlight back on products that maybe have been missed by the general press, but it also allows newly unveiled products to have their own moment and shine without fighting for attention.
The idea might seem simple but till now, Sony has used CES as a shouting match against Samsung, LG, and others who have far deeper pockets when it comes to marketing their own products. Even if we put aside competitors, if Sony unveils too many products, which they have done in the past, they risk getting lost in the wave of their own coverage. Now go back to the original formula of thousands of competitors with many big players with deeper pockets and you begin to see why announcing a bunch of products at CES is a fruitless endeavor for them.
Instead Sony walked away from CES having wowed the press with their OLED TV while allowing other teams like Mobile and Imaging to unveil products when they’re ready. It’s still not in the realm of Apple where they dictate each of their own press events because come MWC 2017 next month, Sony is guaranteed to unveil new mid-range phones, and likely flagship during IFA in September, but the spacing of events and product announcements does allow each division more time to work on their products and more time to shine.