View Photo Gallery: The annual exhibition allows companies to showcase their new and innovative consumer electronics. It is being held Jan. 10-13 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

It’s the week of the Consumer Electronics Show 2012, and if you were to look at the volume of reporting on the conference even before its first official day, you could easily walk away thinking that the gathering was a huge deal in the tech world.

But is it — and what about the world of innovation?

Juding by some of the write-ups making their way around the Web, it doesn’t look like CES has been able to shake one, big, longstanding problem: The biggest companies don’t show up — and, of the ones that do, they don’t bring their A-game, leaving their newest, most highly-anticipated gadgets at home. After all, why should Apple, for example, which has declined to attend the conference for years, present its next, great i-gadget when it can bring every technology reporter, tech-savvy celebrity (and then some) to its own Worldwide Developer Conference?

This issue is so central to CES that our partners at Slate are re-running a piece by technology columnist Farhad Manjoo with the scalding headline, “The most worthless week in tech.” The piece, which Manjoo wrote in the lead-up to last year’s CES conference, paints the gathering as a collection of often-delayed prototypes, such as the HP Slate, and already-launched products, such as Windows 7. The critique accuses that the event fails to fulfill its core goal — “to focus on the tech industry's best new stuff.”

The conference is no longer “the center of the universe” when it comes to technology, according to Jeff Kagan as quoted in a Monday report by Post National Technology Reporter Cecilia Kang. Regardless, as Kang goes on to report, conference planners anticipate that this year’s CES will match last year’s in terms of the number of attendees and surpass it in terms of the amount of space companies will reserve to showcase their wares.

That’s all well and good, but when it comes to innovation, the conference fails to hit the mark, according to Post Columnist Vivek Wadhwa.

“Conferences such as this made a lot of sense a decade ago before the Internet became the best way to share information.” said Wadhwa during an e-mail exchange Monday. “Now companies release product ideas and plans via their Web sites and blogs.”

“We watch videos of upcoming technologies and read about the advances well before they are released. So, CES has largely become irrelevant. It is just a giant circus where people go for entertainment rather than knowledge. I haven't been to one of these for years for this reason.”


Are you going to CES this year? Was it an easy decision, or did you have to think long and hard before making the commitment? Let us know @oninnovations.

View Photo Gallery: Washington Post columnist Vivek Wadhwa outlined his top five predictions for innovation in 2012.

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