The Consumer Electronics Show was nothing short of phenomenal. I know that it is an industry show, and primarily to promote what is new and what is next, but one thing struck me as odd- the consumer was missing.
Oh, sure there were plenty of people there and probably some people who were just there because they want to be in the know, but it was mostly the press, people from the industry, or people who were trying to sell/demonstrate their products.
Every display space was jammed with amazing technology and someone there to demonstrate all of it. There were plenty of movers and shakers in the industry presenting their slice of the electronics world. The Panasonic space had all of this, too, but they had something that no other booth or vendor had: The Calandro Family. What makes us special? Nothing, really, except for one small thing- we are the consumers and our opinions matter. At least they do to Panasonic. Our opinions were important enough to them that they put us on their main stage every day during the CES so that anyone could hear us. (You can too here: http://www.panasonic.com/promos/CES/2009/video/index.asp?id=7 )
The Living in HD program is amazing because we were given phenomenal equipment. The Lumix cameras, the Viera 1080p plasma with Viera Cast, the surround system, the HD camcorder, and the Toughbook laptop. We have used the heck out of all of this equipment (I recently had to clear off the hard drive on the laptop because I filled it up with video from the camera, pictures, etc...). One of our responsibilities to Panasonic is that every week we fill out a questionaire asking about how we used the equipment, what we liked and disliked about the equipment, what changes we would make, and what else we would like the equipment to be able to do.
While our family was in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, every Panasonic executive we met was interested in how we were enjoying the program. They really wanted to know what we thought of their products. Many of them were aware of my responses to the weekly surveys. They had seen this blog, they had looked at the content we had added to the http://www.livinginhd.com/ website.
All of the people we met whether it was Jeramie Maxwell- Sales/Training Support Tennessee Region, Carol DiStaulo-Media Director, Tom Murano-Director of Brand Management, Bob Greenberg- Vice President Brand Marketing, Robert Perry-Executive Vice President, Peter Fannon- Vice President Technology Policy, or even the Chairman of Panasonic North America Yoshi Yamada were not only kind to us, they all were truly interested in what we had to say. They cared enough about who we were to wear buttons that celebrated our son's 6th birthday, and they were excited that he was living it in HD!
Whenever we were talking with these people and all of the other fantastic Panasonic employees too numerous to list here, we were listened to. Our opinions were valued. To each of these people, we represented the consumer, but even more importantly, we represented the human beings who use their product.
Panasonic cares about us as human beings. The whole idea behind the Living in HD concept is that they want to know how people will really be using the products that they are putting out there. Our opinions matter, and they should. It is refreshing that a corporation as large and as global as Panasonic recognizes that the voice of the people is important and by listening to the people, they can create products that will enhance and improve the life of their consumer.
With the world being noisier than it ever has been with blogs, cell phones, the internet, and media of all types, it is a pleasure to be heard.
What you didn't see at CES 2009 was the consumer- except for in one booth: Panasonic.
It was an honor to be there representing you, the readers, consumers, and families, and an honor to meet the fine people at Panasonic who care about what we have to say.