CES- is this what design means to most companies?

I found this article on the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show:

and this comment struck me:

…CES is a gruesome horror show of various parts bulk ordered slapped together by engineers without any vision: their infinite configurations determined by some engineer’s spreadsheet, their branding decided by the random alphanumeric string generated in cell A1 for each variation. Go to Asus or Sony or Dell’s booth, for example, and you’ll see a couple of dozen new laptops, each with some slight iteration of new processor or cache size or RAM configuration or display technology or storage option, but with no clearly stated creator’s vision distinguishing them from one another…

…the people making these gadgets can’t answer as simple a question as why their device matters?
(They can’t. At a past CES I attended, this was the sole question we asked the people working the booths: nearly every single one stumbled over their script and could only answer in specs.)

I like companies who design and make things because they like the things they make and what they do. Make a living by all means but do it because you love it and want to improve it.

Sanjy: This is a problem everywhere. Even as designers, we spend much more time looking at what and how we make something than who needs it. It’s also a question of legacy. Companies can’t understand replacing 18 laptops with 3. That would be a horrible step back. In reality, perhaps the market only really needs 3. Look at Apple.

At the end of the day it’s usually decided by some marketing persons spreadsheet. If configuration A1 sold X units and config B1 sold Y units, there is obviously a market for a laptop in between.

Same as “Does the world need 500 different 42” TV’s" - no, but since we as consumers keep buying this stuff they’ll keep selling it.

Great point. You can try to fool the public, but they do a pretty good job of driving companies to do whatever it takes to make the sale. Especially in tough economic times like these. Was it 2-3 years ago, that the pre-Christmas deals were all 42" tv’s for under $1000, and that was a magic tipping point for consumers? Now it seems like you can find them for under $500, even $400.

Macbook 2.4GHz : 250GB
Macbook Pro 13-inch: 2.4GHz
Macbook Pro 13-inch: 2.66GHz
Macbook Pro 15-inch: 2.4GHz
Macbook Pro 15-inch: 2.53GHz
Macbook Pro 15-inch: 2.66GHz
Macbook Pro 17inch: 2.53GHz
Macbook Air 11-inch : 64GB
Macbook Air 11-inch : 128GB
Macbook Air 13-inch : 128GB
Macbook Air 13-inch : 256GB

That’s 11. People seem to forget that Apple too offer “endless” configurations of their products within their lines. Yes, HP or Dell might have more options, but they only have a few different segments.


One could say the same thing about footwear. People only need 3 type of shoes. All in the same color. Reduce amount of sizes to 2-3. Go to Nike or Adidas or Puma’s booth, for example, and you’ll see a couple of dozen new sneakers, each with some slight iteration of new style or sole pattern or shoelaces configuration or color, but with no clearly stated creator’s vision distinguishing them from one another… How does that sound?

engio: Hey, I love variety.

Apple: Sure, that is 11 different skus, but seperated into 3 distinct lines: Macbook, Pro, Air. Some of these companies at CES (the Chinese/Taiwanese are the worse, mho) have 18 different lines that are all essentially the same thing.

Footwear/etc: These products are nothing but style, something lacking in 90% of electronics. I would love to see a art nouveau Dell and a modernist Asus and a steam punk HP. The reality is that they will all be plastic boxes with venting placed by engineers (no consideration for style).

I don’t really enjoy the sound of that. It’s certainly a shame when we see lots of stuff with no creator vision, but it can be a real delight when we do. At least that’s what lets me keep looking to the future. I want to have that effect on people for the rest of my life.

The article was very well written.