Tales Of CES: How Many Selfie Sticks Are Too Many?

CES is in full swing — the doors of the show officially opened this morning, tens of thousands of people took over the show floor, going from one stand to another. The Las Vegas Convention Center was as overwhelming as I expected, but one thing in particular struck me. CES is a trade show, it wasn’t designed to entertain the press. And in some way, selfie sticks are the star of the show today.

I spent most of my day walking around every single hall of the Convention Center, taking my time to introduce myself to companies, play with some products and talk with other attendees. But when I looked at people’s badges, I didn’t see a lot of journalists — most people had a buyer, exhibitor or industry affiliate badges (whatever “industry affiliate” means).

And this is key to understanding the original purpose of CES: people come here to talk with the rest of the consumer electronics industry. Companies find suppliers and clients at CES. Resellers shop around. It’s a great way to spot trends as well.

And selfie sticks stole the show today. Attendees filmed drones and crowds using them, while a few exhibitors were showcasing their selfie stick lineup in golf bags. Of course selfie sticks at CES quickly became a running joke on Twitter. Most people I follow find them depressing, I actually think they are funny.

But selfie sticks are just one commodity items among many others (USB cables, portable batteries and Bluetooth speakers…). These all are uninteresting to the press, but make sense in a trade show. It’s all about selling your stuff to other attendees, who might not be journalists.

And when it comes to selling techniques, everything goes. Companies choose to do bill showers like American Express, showcase weird singing robots like Toshiba, or let you play bowling. Panasonic even inexplicably displays a Tesla on its booth.

But my favorite thing of the show was definitely Creative’s booth. The company recently revived the Sound Blaster brand for a Bluetooth speaker. While I can’t tell you whether it’s a good speaker or not due to the hostile testing environment, the company had a salesman doing an antiquated teleshopping-style presentation.

As you can see on the feature image, Creative claims to provide the “Biggest Baddest Boldest Killer Audio.” I’m sure there is a bit of irony behind this marketing message, but I can tell you for sure that Creative and the audience were all taking this seriously.

Don’t get me wrong, I saw a lot of exciting stuff today as well, but I wasn’t prepared to feel like I was in a parallel universe where teleshopping shows are cool.

For this exact reason, it would be a mistake to dismiss selfie sticks as a stupid trend. They are the logical evolution of the tripod and the GoPro, and nobody complained about tripods and GoPros when they became popular. So let’s embrace the weird world of CES, at least for just one week.

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Read my other posts in the Tales of CES series.