Microsoft announced today that their attendance at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show will be their last, ending a two-decade partnership that saw the launch of the Xbox gaming system and the Kinect motion camera peripheral. According to Microsoft, the timing of CES does not match best with product release dates. Considering that Microsoft’s main products at recent shows were consumer electronics – and particularly the Xbox gaming system – as opposed to software, it likely makes sense for the company to compete with Sony and Nintendo in the fall holiday shopping season.
“We asked, ‘Are we doing something because it’s the right thing to do, or because it’s the way we’ve always done it?’?” Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s vice president of communications, said in a blog post.
Nevertheless, the decision to leave CES is still quite shocking, considering the strong partnership Microsoft and the Consumer Electronics Association has had in the past. For the last 14 years, Microsoft has had a top executive give a keynote speech, including this year’s scheduled address from CEO Steve Ballmer. Microsoft’s first major entry into the consumer electronics sector – the Xbox gaming system – was unveiled at the 2001 CES. And most recently, Microsoft unveiled the Kinect, the motion-sensing camera add-on for the Xbox that has been remarkably successful.
However, as other very large companies like Apple have shown, attendance at CES is not absolutely required to be a major player in the consumer electronics market. With CES broadening its scope over the last few years to include automotive and appliance technology, companies with plenty of resources like Microsoft may want to put on their own focused show, much like Apple leaving MacWorld.
CES 2012 is only two and a half weeks away, and many of us here at pnosker.com will be live in attendance for the second year in a row. Stay tuned for the latest on Microsoft’s product debuts in what now is expected to be their last year at the show.