CES’s seamy underbelly

Lynne Kiesling

OK, I just effused a bit over a new product introduction at the Consumer Electronics Show. Time to balance my enthusiasm with a glimpse of CES’s seamy underbelly. You’re surprised that the largest consumer electronics trade show in the world, held annually in Las Vegas (of all places), has a seamy underbelly? Want to buy my bridge?

It probably has several seamy underbellies, but the one that caught my eye this afternoon is misogyny, as recounted with some wonderful and entertaining writing by Liz Gumbinner (AKA CoolMomTech). Trade shows are infamous for such things, right? Booth babes, speaking panels where all of the speakers are men, and so on. Liz’s post recounts a few of the instances of misogyny she encountered at CES2013 this week, from almost-innocuous “oh, you must not have been able to get the phone cover off because you didn’t want to break your nails” to some truly appalling encounters. Like this:

Oh, here’s an easy one to start with: If a tech publisher tells you she has four children, the correct response is pretty much anything other than, “Wow. You must have a lot of sex.”

I mention her post here for two reasons. First, big shout out for great writing; I’m a scan-reader, and I was hanging on her every word. Almost never happens for me. Second, she highlights some important economic implications of such behavior:

Tech marketers and conference track programmers, I have some really simple advice for you: It’s time to move on from 1954. If not for feminism or for social good, you need to do it for your own business.

According to research from the very organization putting on the show, women spend more on tech than men. They’re involved in 89% of the consumer electronic purchase decisions. They own smartphones and digital cameras and laptops and tablets. They buy apps like crazy. And you know? They’re writing about technology too.

I can guarantee that if Lindsey Turrentine or Molly Wood or Xeni Jardin or Jolie O’Dell decide your product is a great one, you will sell a crapload of them. Enough even to pay for lap dances for the whole sales team.


Ford’s MyEnergi Lifestyle

Lynne Kiesling

You may know that the annual Consumer Electronics Show has been going on this week in Las Vegas (CES2013). CES is the venue for displaying the latest, greatest, wonderful electronic gadgets that will enrich your life, improve your productivity, reduce your stress, and make your breath minty fresh.

And, increasingly, ways to save energy and reduce energy waste. The most ambitious proposition to come out of CES2013 is Ford’s MyEnergi Lifestyle, as described in a Wired magazine article from the show:

Here at CES 2013, the automaker announced MyEnergi Lifestyle, a sweeping collaboration with appliance giant Whirlpool, smart-meter supplier Infineon, Internet-connected thermostat company Nest Labs and, for a green-energy slant, solar-tech provider SunPower. The goal is to help people understand how the “time-flexible” EV charging model can more cheaply power home appliances, and how combining an EV, connected appliances and the data they generate can help them better manage their energy consumption and avoid paying for power at high rates. …

Appliances are getting smarter, too. Some of the most power-hungry appliances, such as a water heater and the ice maker in your freezer, can now schedule their most energy-intensive activities at night. Nest’s Internet-connected thermostat can help homeowners save energy while their [sic] away. While some of the appliances and devices within MyEnergi Lifestyle launch early this year, others are available now, Tinskey said.

One reason why I think this initiative is promising is its involvement of Whirlpool and Nest, two very different companies that are both focused on ways to combine digital technology and elegant design to make energy efficiency in the home appealing, attractive, and easy to implement.

The value proposition is largely a cloud-based data one — gather data on the electricity use in the home in real time, program in some consumer-focused triggers, such as price thresholds, and manage the electricity use in the home with the objective of minimizing cost and emissions. Gee, I think I’ve heard that one here before