The New York Times just published a piece about how CES is pretty much over. The products don't matter, and even the cool stuff doesn't ever really make it to the real world.
As someone who's been covering CES for years, I'm surprised to read that last part.
Especially when I see game consoles, phones, even robots that were first shown to us years ago at CES. Yes, we're a business that has a short attention span; we report wildly on what Apple will show next .. until the company proves us wrong. But really, CES has always been about what we'll see in the years to come. That, to me, is why it's cool.
That said, I can't really defend the show as being completely up to date - even with its futuristic leanings. Where's the Square checkout counter? Where's the Facebook shopping demo? Amazon? Twitter? All used regularly by consumers, but rarely shown off at a convention like this.
Hardware was, not long ago, King. But those days are behind us. Software is where the bulk of innovation is these days. Apps are hot not because they're fun, but because they're changing the way we do things as consumers. They have a place at the show. Netflix is essentially a software company; so is Square. We should be trying this stuff (and whatever will follow them) out at CES; it's really where the future of consumerism is going.
The show is cool. If it goes away, we'll see a lot less hardware in advance, and that would be kind of a shame. But maybe it can make itself more relevant, by showing off what really empowers the consumer these days: all that awesome software.
Scott is roaming the show floor. You can follow him on Twitter: @scottbudman