CES 2007: Apple’s way or the highway?

In a good example of how the world turns sometimes, I was talking with Eric Benderoff, a tech reporter for the Chicago Tribune, in the CES press room at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and he quoted me in one of his recent entries. We were both venting about how the biggest tech news of the day wasn’t in Las Vegas, but in San Francisco, because Apple does their own thing.

One of Eric’s/Tribune readers (I presume) saw this and promptly shot us an e-mail confronting us/me with the quote and to back up the claim. Uh-oh, what did I say? My mind was/has been in a fog over these past few days. Maybe I was misquoted. I took a look, and I can understand the reader’s point.

So what did I say that was so inflammatory? Here’s part of the quote “There are 100 products right here (in Vegas) more worthy of the coverage Apple is getting.” Hmm… I don’t remember saying quite that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not slamming Eric at all. In fact, Chief Gizmateer and I quite liked him. He was one of the established press that didn’t fit the stereotype that we assigned them earlier on this week, and we had a great conversation.

As Eric couldn’t write down everything that I said, let me flesh it out a bit more. My feeling is that Apple is not so high and mighty that they can’t come and be with the rest of the technology world here at CES; Macworld can be held at so many other times during the year. Obviously, the quip about ‘100 products’ was an exaggeration to make a point, and I didn’t mean ‘more’ but ‘as’. And who gets to define or judge ‘worthy’? That is certainly in the eye of the beholder.

Also, who gets to judge newsworthiness? If a story hits the front page of every major newspaper, news website, blog and cable news channel, does that make it newsworthy? If a rumor mill has artificially hyped a story before its eventual release, does it make the actual announcement or its content valuable?

I’m probably coming across as an Apple-basher, but that’s hardly true. I think Apple makes great products, and in recent years, they’ve done a bang up job of marketing and promotion, and I give them great kudos for this. After all, I own an iPod! I’m only commenting on one thing where I disagree with their approach.

Today, I walked the floor at the Sands Expo (somewhat aimlessly unfortunately), but generally looking to see what caught my eye. I saw more than one example of products that I felt were innovative, filled a gap (needed or not), but quite possibly may disappear if the product’s makers aren’t successful. This is disheartening to me. Great technology and products shouldn’t always be subject to the sometimes cruel machinery of competitive actions. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I love Open Source software so much.

Eric – let the quote stand. Perhaps this will help to trigger the conversations and pressures needed to get Apple to play well with the other kids in the sandbox.