Did Microsoft Make A Mistake By Skipping CES?
January 13, 2013

Microsoft’s CES Absence: Smart Move Or Stupid Mistake?

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports — Your Universe Online

For the first time in 13 years, Microsoft was not a featured presenter at the recently-concluded International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and the reaction to their scaled-down presence at the trade show has spurred much debate amongst technology industry experts.

On Friday, AP Business Writers Michael Liedtke and Ryan Nakashima suggested the Redmond, Washington company may have surrendered the CES spotlight “a year too early,” arguing the Las Vegas-based expo could have given them a prime showcase for their recently released, more touch-screen friendly Windows 8 software.

“Microsoft's decision to scale back its presence at this week's International CES deprived the software maker of a prime opportunity to explain and promote a new generation of redesigned computers running its radically remade Windows operating system,” Liedtke and Nakashima wrote. “The missed chance comes at a time when Microsoft Corp. could use a bully pulpit to counter perceptions that Windows 8 isn't compelling enough to turn the technological tide away from smartphones and tablets running software made by Apple Inc. and Google Inc.

The statistics don´t exactly disprove their theory. As previously reported here at redOrbit.com, Windows 8 did little to help boost PC sales over the holiday season.

In fact, according to International Data Corporation figures, during the fourth-quarter of 2012, worldwide shipments of traditional computers fell 6.4-percent versus the same period in 2011, marking the first time in over five years that the computing market saw a year-on-year decline during the holiday season.

"They needed to be at this show in a very big way to show the progress they have made and what is it about 2013 that is going to make consumers really gravitate toward a Windows 8 machine," technology industry analyst Patrick Moorhead said in an article published by the St. Louis Tribune.

Richard Shim, an analyst with NPD DisplaySearch, added that anytime a company like Microsoft is attempting to promote a new product, “it´s always helpful to communicate your message directly as opposed to counting on your partners.”

As Brad Chacos of PC World points out, the company was not completely without a CES presence. CEO Steve Ballmer made an appearance during Qualcomm's opening keynote presentation, and during the JP Morgan Tech Forum, Windows CFO/CMO Tami Reller discussed the number of Windows 8 licenses sold by the company to date (60 million).

“More importantly, Microsoft's manufacturing partners have been busy waving the Windows 8 flag with vigor,” Chacos added. “Lenovo, Asus, Vizio, Samsung, Acer and others unveiled dozens of new Windows 8 devices, many of which sport hybrid-style designs that blur the line between laptop and tablet (or desktop and tablet, in some cases).”

"It's almost like they're here," Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told PC World. "I think the strategy to back away from this a little bit and let their partners carry the load has been a good one."

For what it´s worth, Microsoft “insists things worked out at just fine during CES, even though it didn´t have a booth and only had a smattering of executives at the sprawling trade show,” Liedtke and Nakashima said. “The company“¦ decided it no longer makes sense to invest as much time and money in CES as it once did. The company says the show´s early January slot doesn´t mesh with the timing of its major product releases.”

Frank Shaw, a spokesman with the company, said they were “very comfortable” with their decision.