CES is only a few weeks away, and we've already got our first shocker: after this year, Microsoft is out. Which might sound strange or sad—but Microsoft is smart as hell for doing this.
Microsoft doesn't need CES. It said so itself: "We won't have a keynote or booth after this year because our product news milestones generally don't align with the show's January timing." It's true—Microsoft has had a year of huge news, between Xbox, Windows Phone, and Windows 8, all spread across the calendar as it happens. Why would it hold back until January when it could share its coolest stuff immediately? Why would any company?
CES isn't dead, nor is it dying, nor is it really that ill. But the trade show per se is increasingly irrelevant. The internet is the world's biggest trade show, not CES. It may lack the hooker and neon magnetism of a giganto Vegas convention, but news waits for no tech holiday, however hallowed. CES started in 1967, when news was constricted and hard to disseminate. Getting everyone together in one place was both practical and necessary—you couldn't share a video of The Cool New Thing from California to New York.
Now you can make a splash on your own, sans booth spectacle, and Microsoft knows it. And no matter how pumped we are for the 2012 show, it certainly won't be the last tech giant to pack up its toys in the coming years. [Microsoft]
Update: The group that organizes the CES hit us up:
Microsoft has also informed us that, although their plans for the 2013 CES are not yet finalized, they will not request the Central Hall exhibit space that they have used in past years. Given the huge success of the 2012 CES, with more than 1.8 million net square feet of exhibit space (the second largest show floor in our history) and more than 2,700 exhibitors, we have received expressions of interest for that space from the long waiting list for Central Hall exhibit space.
They also wished Microsoft well, taking the breakup with class.