by Julianne Pepitone, Tuesday, January 4, 2011
The Consumer Electronics Show is the tech industry’s annual gadget lovefest. It’s launched some history-making devices – and some major disasters.
Click here to view the full article
The Consumer Electronics Show spans five decades: It launched in New York City way back in 1967, mainly as a spinoff of the Chicago Music Show. The show experimented with different cities and twice-a-year schedules until 1998, when it moved permanently to Las Vegas and became an annual extravaganza.
In the 1970s, CES was still largely a trade show, with little mainstream media coverage. The first CES of the decade brought the commercial debut of the Videocassette Recorder, which was first marketed as an easy way to record TV shows for later viewing.
VCRs had been around since the mid-1950s, but they cost around $50,000 and were used mainly by TV networks.
An awestruck audience at the 1970 CES loved the VCR’s convenience – but Hollywood battled back, warning that piracy would run rampant and kill network television.
The VHS remained on top until the late 1990s, when the DVD (unveiled at the 1996 CES) began to take over. By the early 2000s, the DVD was king of pre-recorded releases. But even today, blank VHS tapes are a major medium for recording content – and VCRs are still big sellers, though they’re now most often found in DVD player combo units.
1976: Cheap Digital Watches
Texas Instruments was slogging through a tough decade. The company invented the single-chip microprocessor, which revolutionized small devices like calculators. Then it got caught in a price war that decimated its sales in the very market it created.
But TI turned itself around with a product that seems almost silly in retrospect: an electronic digital watch that sold for just $19.95. The trend took off overnight and became a bona fide craze – much to the chagrin of classic watch manufacturers, who saw their market share decrease rapidly.
TI was so successful, in fact, that it dropped the price of its digital watch to $9.95 less than a year later. But ever-cheaper knockoffs from Asia arrived in 1978, and TI’s digital watch sales plummeted in 1979. The company left the digital watch business in 1981, though the devices live on as a throwback symbol of nerdery everywhere.
1996: Apple Pippin
Apple’s a hotshot tech company now, but the mid-’90s saw the company fighting for relevance after several failed products. The Pippin launched at CES 1996 as a network computer that could also be used to play games. Apple licensed the technology to Japanese toymaker Bandai, and the pair launched the multimedia device as a team.
The San Jose Mercury News called the Pippin the “future of cyberspace,” but consumers were confused by the half-computer, half-console branding. The Pippin’s 14.4 kpbs modem made the device super-slow, and few games were available for the Mac operating system.
The Pippin cost $600 – almost double the price tag of consoles from rivals Nintendo and Sega. It’s estimated that only about 10,000 Pippins were purchased in the U.S. The device is now considered one of the Apple’s biggest flops.
PC World named the Pippin No. 22 on its list of the 25 worst tech products of all time. In their words: “Underpowered, overpriced, and underutilized – that pretty much describes everything that came out of Apple in the mid-90s.”
2001: Microsoft Xbox
Bill Gates unveiled the highly anticipated Xbox, Microsoft’s first video game console, in a keynote speech at the 2001 CES. The sleek black box included an Ethernet port, a built-in 8GB hard drive and the capability to play movie DVDs.
Professional wrestling star The Rock joined Gates on stage for the announcement of WWF’s “Raw is War” Xbox game. The unlikely pair bantered for a few minutes in front of the audience.
“To the untrained eye, it just might appear that The Rock and Bill Gates don’t have a heck of a lot in common,” The Rock quipped. “That can’t be further from the truth. Both The Rock and Bill Gates stand on top of their industry. And both The Rock and Bill Gates are bestselling authors.”
The Xbox was released a few months later to long lines and waiting lists. Some of the platform’s games that have become legendary, including the “Halo” series, various NFL titles and “Dead or Alive.” In 2002, Microsoft launched its Xbox Live online gaming service.
The next generation of the console came in 2005 with the launch of Xbox 360. But the original Xbox is still beloved, and video game sites including IGN have named it one of the top consoles ever launched.
2003: Blu-Ray Disc
The Blu-ray Disc, unveiled at CES 2003, was supposed to be the David to HD DVD’s Goliath.
Both formats offered improved picture and sound quality over the regular ol’ DVD. But HD DVD, developed by Toshiba and NEC, had already attracted the big players. Its supporters included Microsoft, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC - News) and Warner Bros – and the format was backed by the influential DVD Forum industry group.
USA Today dismissed Blu-ray as an also-ran in an article touting HD DVD’s quality: “Sony has developed the competing Blu-ray DVD, but hasn’t signed up any studios beyond its own.”
Despite HD’s major leg up, the Blu-ray Disc Association soldiered on as a joint venture between Sony and Philips – and slowly slowly garnered support from content manufacturers and major retailers.
A mere day before CES 2008, Warner Bros. announced it would drop HD DVD for Blu-ray. That signaled the end for HD. Less than one month later, Toshiba conceded defeat and discontinued its HD DVD business. Once again, a tortoise triumphed over the hare.
Click here to view the full article
<strong><a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/career-work/article/111732/past-ces-hits-and-epic-flops" target="_blank">http://finance.yahoo.com/career-work/article/111732/past-ces-hits-and-epic-flops</a></strong></p>