Microsoft to drop CES after 2012 show

The keynote address scheduled for January will be the company's last. The software giant is the latest company to drop or avoid the conference.

Microsoft said it will pull out of the Consumer Electronics Show after 2012. The software giant is the latest company to pull out or avoid the tech confab altogether.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at CES 2011. James Martin/CNET

Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw said in a blog post today that the company, which has been a mainstay attraction at the show for years, would no longer make a keynote presentation or host a booth at the show after the one scheduled for January.

"We'll continue to participate in CES as a great place to connect with partners and customers across the PC, phone and entertainment industries, but 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," Shaw said.

The company has been increasingly using its own events to make major product announcements, an underlying trend that other technology companies have followed. Apple and Google have long avoided CES, even as Google has had a major presence at other conferences such as Mobile World Congress. Motorola Mobility likewise canceled its press conference for the upcoming show.

Microsoft is just the latest to reconsider its presence at CES, which is a large and costly event in which companies risk getting drowned out by the onslaught of announcements that come out. Instead, companies have been looking at smaller, individual events where they don't have to compete with other news.

Many are looking to emulate the model made successful by Apple, in which it is able to generate a huge amount of buzz and attention for an event that it puts on.

The Consumer Electronics Association said it has already received interest from other exhibitors for Microsoft's old booth space.

"Both CEA and Microsoft have agreed that the time has come to end this great run, and so Microsoft will not have a keynote at the 2013 CES," the trade group said in a statement today. "Microsoft is an important member of CEA and we wish them all the best as they evolve their plans for new ways to tell consumer stories."

"As we look at all of the new ways we tell our consumer stories - from product momentum disclosures, to exciting events like our Big Windows Phone, to a range of consumer connection points like Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft.com and our retail stores - it feels like the right time to make this transition," Shaw said.

Microsoft's press conference in January of this year was mostly a recap of existing products, including the Xbox 360 and its then-recently launched Windows Phone platform. The big new piece of news was Windows 8, which itself had been detailed with compatibility for ARM processors at a separate press event ahead of the company's keynote.

The company, however, stayed mum on any new operating system features, saving those details for its Build conference in September. It's also held separate, smaller events to promote its Windows Phone mobile operating system.

Updated at 9:41 a.m., 9:55 a.m. and 10:35 a.m. PT: to include additional background and the CEA's response.

 

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