Tales from CES--Don Thomas (Jan.22,1994)

From: Atari SIG (xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 02/20/94-12:52:06 PM Z

From: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG)
Subject: Tales from CES--Don Thomas (Jan.22,1994)
Date: Sun Feb 20 12:52:06 1994

 :: Volume 3 - Issue 1       ATARI EXPLORER ONLINE       22 January 1994 ::

Don also shares "Tales from CES":

   This is NOT an official release; personal commentary only.

   I know people are going to ask me what I have heard now that
   everyone is back in the office from CES this past week in Las
   Vegas. Several people have forwarded independent CES commentaries
   and rumors to me in E-Mail for comment which I couldn't respond to
   very well.  Although I've attended Comdex and CES and many other
   shows in my career, I did not attend this one. My eyes and ears
   have been seeing and hearing the same as anyone else who couldn't
   go this time around.

   Quite frankly, the excited people who bounced into the office this
   morning were not the same people I expected to see. According to
   some reviews I had seen passed around on the on-line services I
   thought I would see defeated troops running in with their tails
   between their legs. On the contrary, everyone was racing around,
   talking up storms and doing a lot of smiling. Amidst it all, I was
   able to squeeze brief conversations in with Bill Rehbock (Developer
   Relations Hot Shot) and Garry Tramiel (Retailer Sales Chief of
   Staff). I showed them both the descriptions of the Atari booth
   offered by some people online who attended the show. Their versions
   were much more positive and very different than the versions
   described in the couple of articles I showed them.

   I think I should give a quick overview of what CES is all about.
   The Consumer Electronics Show is NOT intended to be a forum where
   manufacturers launch new products for the public to see although
   many companies are aware of the intense press there and use it for
   that anyway. CES is a show where manufacturers romance potential
   retailers.  It's the once or twice a year opportunity for hundreds
   of retail buyers and hundreds of manufacturing firms to connect
   with each other within just a few days. It's not like an Auto Show
   at McCormick Place in Chicago where the public is invited and all
   the displays are designed to sell the consumer. It's an opportunity
   for manufacturers to show off security minded displays, talk about
   new advertising Co-Op programs, discuss new bulk purchase
   discounts, network new developer alliances, prove the products they
   promised were available, share marketing success stories, reveal
   new advertising strategies and a variety of other marketing goals
   that would simply bore the typical consumer to no end.

   I saw one report that complained that all the Jaguars were in
   plastic cabinets and the units were a little hard to hear as crowds
   of people huddled around. Well of course you did, you yo-yo. Atari
   is not after a crowd of kids trying out new high scores at CES,
   they're interested to show retailers what the new upright in-store
   display stands look like. Most meaningful retail buyers aren't
   interested in level 5 of Club Drive, they want to see what you got
   for them for in-store P.O.P.  displays (Point Of Purchase
   Displays).  The sound may very well have been turned down so people
   could hear salespeople talk... my experience at those shows is that
   they are too loud to hear anything anyway.

   I think it was the same report that claimed that all the systems
   had bare electronic boards for carts. First of all this is a stupid
   complaint of a show that is known for sporting new technologies in
   development. Again, this is not intended to be an end-user show.
   Secondly, I had numerous people insist that that is simply not a
   true statement anyway. Our released carts were in cart form. The
   ones in development were on bare boards to symbolize the reality
   that they were unfinished. In cart form, people expect everything
   is done and want to know why some specific aspect seems incomplete
   when it physically looks like a finished product.

   This report indicated other criticisms of specific games that came
   across as unfairly biased. For instance, he (she?) indicated that
   Tempest 2000 is a dumb game to bring into the 90's. I thought so
   too at first since I was never a big fan of the original Tempest. A
   lot of people were fans back then though and Mr. Skrutch provided
   me some previews of Tempest 2000 that I believe will change the way
   I look at it forever (for the better).

   Garry Tramiel stated that this was the "most exciting show" he had
   been to in support of Atari products for a very long time. Bill
   Rehbock said something similar in a separate conversation. Garry
   justified his statement by saying that only 2 of his appointments
   didn't show on time and most came early with anxious questions like
   "how soon?", "how much?" and "how 'bout sooner?". Garry said he had
   top CEOs of retail chains waiting outside his door to meet him that
   wouldn't have done so in the past for anything. Because these
   meetings involve confidential agreements, I cannot discuss Garry's
   itinerary in detail, but he said everything was upbeat and positive
   with very few exceptions. He said only one retailer met her
   appointment with Garry with a negative comment. She said, "nothing
   here impresses me, I thought you should know." Then she proceeded
   to negotiate with Garry on terms he could not negotiate on (in
   fairness to other retailers). She left in a huff only to return
   later with her company President who insisted on opening
   discussions again. I know I'm hearing Garry's side of the story,
   but even with some stretch of the imagination I don't know why they
   fought so hard to buy something that "didn't impress her."

   Bill gave me some astronomical number of developers who indicated
   they want to discuss more on development using the Jaguar as their
   platform. Keep in mind that development projects for people can
   easily involve a wide variety of things and many may have nothing
   to do with consumer goods. Therefore, all these people may not have
   end user goodies to discuss. I asked Bill if these are just people
   who dropped their card in the fish bowl and he said "Oh, if I count
   those then there's several hundred!"

   Various Jaguar related products won several innovation awards at
   the show. I could not recall what specific ones they were, but I am
   sure announcements are forthcoming.

   The differences in what I heard from people in the office from
   what I read in some of the "editorials" online reminded me of how I
   love In-N-Out Burgers (a VERY popular chain of fast food burger
   joints in California) and how my wife hates them. The restaurant
   does not change between the time I place the order and the time my
   wife does. She'll simply tell you that the burgers are "sloppy and
   greasy". My description is that they're "juicy and piled high".
   Same burgers, same restaurant, same time of day; different agendas,
   different tastes and different points of view.

   Public Relation firms get a lot of money to generate official press
   releases, so this is not intended to be more than a personal

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