The technology tradeshow CES 2019 was this past week, and it surely brought a wealth of ideas, inspiration, and collaborative opportunities to established players and aspiring upstarts in fields like mobile app development and smart technology. But nearly lost among the fawning admiration for anything deemed to be cutting edge was the similar wealth of comedy that could be found in the event.
If you’ve ever wondered what it looks like for someone to gradually lose his mind while attending the theater of the absurd, have a look at this Twitter thread from Ed Zitron, which collects together images of some of the most ridiculous and hard-to-explain products and services on display in just about a quarter of the floor space of the sprawling event. Zitron seasons the images with just the right amount of exasperation to make you feel both grateful for his reporting and sympathetic to his plight.
You may find it amusing to simply laugh at the strange products trying to throw themselves in front of the public as the next big thing. But if you yourself are trying to leverage modern technology to make a mark on consumers, this sort of comedy may also be instructive. You don’t even need to be in the tech sector to derive a lesson from this. Even if yours is a low-tech business, you may find yourself looking to mobile app development, artificial intelligence, or other cutting-edge resources to promote and upgrade your work.
This may, in fact, be exactly the right idea. But the lesson you should take from the ridicule of CES vendors is that it isn’t enough to just take an existing product and make it vaguely compatible with popular technologies. Mobile app development can substantially improve the way the public interacts with your service or your website; but it can also introduce an irrelevant alternative to accessing the same information through a web browser on the user’s phone, tablet, or computer.
A lot of the funny booths at CES 2019 seemed to be using the equivalent of the former tactic. In response to Zitron’s picture of the “world first autonomous shower,” one Twitter user said, “My autonomous shower has meaningful human control. I turn it on; it is on. I turn it off; it is off. Level 5 Autonomous Shower.” It’s hard for the average person to conceptualize what they gain by adding “autonomy” or connectivity, or mobile app development to a familiar product, unless those features do something that dramatically expands upon familiar functions.
There are definitely ways for countless business – or an outside web service provider – to accomplish that goal. But the particular role of something like mobile app development necessarily varies from one client to another, and it depends on careful thought, collaboration, and trial-and-error. In absence of these things, you risk making yourself a laughing stock. Or perhaps worse still, you risk investing significant financial and human resources in something that most users will glance at once and deem pointless, and thus never actually use it to expand their relationship with your product or service.