In a post on Microsoft’s official blog, the company’s communications VP Frank Shaw says that its “product news milestones generally don’t align with the show’s January timing.” It’s a line that Apple has long taken, having pulled out of Macworld several years ago to focus on its own events; indeed, Microsoft now hosts a number of significant conferences of its own every year including MIX and BUILD, both venues that it has used recently to make major announcements.
While I won’t speculate on the true circumstances surrounding Microsoft pulling out of CES, it’s hard to ignore the trend going on here. The era of the large tradeshow is slowly coming to a close. The pressure put on companies like Apple (who famously pulled out of Macworld back in 2009) and Microsoft to have a big presentation and innovative new products ready to showcase in time with a third-party event is too great. Now that the world is watching these companies individually, they can hold events whenever they chose and receive much more attention than they would mixed in with the rest of the exhibitors at a large tradeshow.
I enjoy yearly events like E3 - which is one of my favourite weeks of the year - and I see these types of shows sticking around for a little while at least. But it is not difficult to imagine a future without them.