1. Conferences and Events

CES in Review (the unauthorized guide)

‘m now back from CES. Here’s a quick roundup of highlights that you probably won’t find elsewhere:
Best Schwag

  • USB pen from Duracell (granted, Jay Kolbe from Weber Shandwick mentioned these things are eons old – it’s my first though, and it’s a full gigabyte, so not bad utility-wise)
  • Img_02872Home server children’s book from Microsoft (read it online – really clever PR hook; while I haven’t yet read it cover to cover, a PC Magazine writer was telling me this is one of Microsoft’s better products, even if the average computer user isn’t quite ready for it)
  • Free Tastebook voucher from Tastebook (cookbook making site – looks very professional)
  • Headset from Skype with free minutes (Chaim Haas, great seeing you)

Even with some fun giveaways this year, nothing topped last year’s best and most useful goodie: a 2 gigabyte USB drive from Microsoft, which amazingly I still have and manage to keep on me every workday
Best stats

  • I was taking some notes during my panel at CES. While the numbers may be a little off due to rounding, I found that the audience was 85% male, compared to the panel (including moderator) which was 100% male. 20% of the audience wore glasses, compared to 43% of the panelists. The audience was an estimated 82% white and 18% of Asian descent, compared to 57%/43% for the panelists (note that from my calculations, that was it – those numbers add up to 100%).

Best application of pop culture

  • When I met fellow panelist Michael Litchfield of Doremus San Francisco and heard him speak, I asked him if he was from New Zealand. He was impressed, as most peg him for a Brit or Aussie. How did I figure it out? I confessed to him I made the connection thanks to Flight of the Conchords, the quirky Kiwi folksinger show from HBO. Yes, kids, you too can sound more worldly by watching cable. For a taste of how smart you can get, check out Indecision 2008 from Comedy Central (pardon the aside; that’s a freebie for Don Steele, who out of 150,000-200,000 people I always managed to run into at the show).

Most exciting marketing channels for 2008

  • Tie: P2P advertising and mobile (both came up repeatedly during the panel, though note this was Digital Hollywood and CES, so you won’t hear as much about P2P at a retail event, for instance)

Biggest letdowns

  • Yahoo – this year’s tent had coffee and assorted nuts, but even the dark chocolate covered peanuts can’t compare to last year when they had Cold Stone Creamery (maybe if the stock goes up they’ll serve Sprinkles Cupcakes next year)

Best travel essentials

  • 100 calorie snack packs – you’re on your feet a lot at this show and sometimes waiting endlessly, so these can come in handy when you’re starving and not in easy access to food (I recommend the Reese’s, Fudge Shoppe Grasshoppers, and then the Chex varieties for something lighter and more breakfasty)
  • Peggle1
    iPod Nano loaded with Peggle from Popcap Games – I became totally addicted to this while I busted it out while waiting on line everywhere; the full version’s $20 online but only $5 for the iPod. Now I need to beat the challenge modes.

It was a great event, especially for the people I met and caught up with out there. It’s good to be back though.

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