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CES flops: A brief history of high hopes and bad guesses

Colin Neagle | Jan. 10, 2014
Remember the Palm Pre? Anybody watching 3D TV these days, running Windows Vista or watching a movie on Blu-ray?

While these devices could very well compete with the iPod line on a technological basis, Apple was just a year away from making the market irrelevant with the introduction of the first iPhone.

CES 2007: The year Windows Vista won Best of CES
That's right, the OS that has since become something of a curse-word in the tech world was once a CES darling.Just weeks before Microsoft would release Vista to the public, the company raised expectations by showing off some of Vista's new features at CES. A CNET UK blog was "convinced you'll be gagging for a taste of the new OS" after seeing demos at the show. Little did they know what the PC market was in for.

Of course, nobody really could have predicted that Windows Vista would have bombed as badly as it did. But considering its history, it's always fun to remember that people were once excited for Vista.

CES 2008: Devices that did one thing the iPhone did
Just six months after the iPhone reached the market, CES 2008 made it obvious that manufacturers weren't really concerned that it would displace certain devices.

The BBC touted Smart GPS devices at CES, particularly the Dash Express GPS device from Dash Navigation, which "aims to harness the power of its community to avoid traffic jams." This was an admirable pursuit, as this capability is still lacking from modern GPS apps. But with the iPhone on the market, and Android in development, the writing was on the wall for the navigation device market.

Similarly, we at Network World highlighted the Sansa Clip, a small iPod competitor that boasted four-times the storage of the iPod Shuffle and retailed for just $79.99. It was just another example of a product that entered the market too late.

CES 2009: The year Palm Pre was named Best in Show
Remember the Palm Pre? If you do, you'll know it was pretty exciting — once.

The first webOS smartphone turned a lot of heads at CES 2009, when the market was still wary of all-touchscreen devices and still open for competition. CNET partnered with the Consumer Electronics Association to issue awards for CES 2009, and chose the Palm Pre as its Best in Show, crediting the webOS experience and organization features. Acknowledging that other smartphones available at the time handled similar functions, CNET said "the Palm Pre is the first smartphone to truly deliver on this in a seamless way."

Unfortunately, the Palm Pre wasn't received as well when it hit the market later that year, receiving poor reviews across the board and falling well short of sales expectations.

CES 2010: The beginning of the 3D revolution that never happened
Hype may have been at its highest for CES 2010, thanks mostly to the promise of high-quality 3D TVs showing up in consumers' living rooms. Such an advance in the TV market catapulted CES publicity beyond the tech media and appealed to the interests of all TV-watching consumers.


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