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Pogue Knocks ‘Em Dead At CEA CEO Summit

I think Gary Severson of Walmart said it best. Sitting down with Consumer Electronics Association’s Gary Shapiro at the organization’s annual CEO Summit last week in Dana Point, Calif., like a showbiz type from a prior generation, he quipped, “How do I follow him?” Laughter followed.

The “him” in this case is David Pogue, New York Times technology columnist, blogger, prolific author of some of the more popular “For Dummies” books, former musical conductor and wanna-be Broadway composer (yeah, really) … and genuine ham. I mean that in a showbiz way, which is a compliment.

I don’t know what I was thinking before Pogue began his presentation. Why didn’t I video or audio record him? If you’ve ever read some of his columns or seen his videos online for the New York Times, anyone should have know that his presentation would not be a traditional review of industry trends.

To give you an indication of his monologue at the end, Pogue said that he has a hobby of “writing songs about consumer electronics technology” using the melodies of some pop classics like … “YMCA.” You get the picture. He did three songs. I was laughing so hard along with the rest of the CEO Summit audience I couldn’t keep notes.

In between jokes Pogue did make plenty of salient points, such as:

* “The legacy of the iPhone is that you trust the cellphone people to design cellphones,” not the wireless carriers.

* Web 2.0, something we at TWICE are quite familiar with, is where via Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia, Flickr and YouTube the public provides content. Web 2.0 reminds some of us of a certain age in the media a line by comedian Jimmy Durante — “Everyone wants to get into the act!”

* Sites like (home services), (micro-loans) and (tracking illnesses nationwide) provide instant information in real time.

Pogue discussed the entire formula of Twitter, which he said was, “Speed + Ego – Privacy = Twitter.” This is especially true, Pogue said, of youth who have less concerns about privacy than other generations.

Pogue said that for companies, Twitter’s impact has been “totally underestimated. If you really want to know what people think of your company, eavesdrop on your company with Twitter.”

His appearance was on Friday, June 19, just about when the Iranian government shut down foreign news outlets from covering the demonstrations there and traditional news outlets like CNN and others began using Twitter and Facebook to try and cover the events there.

The demonstrations in Iran and the use of the Web by ordinary citizens to get the story out reminds me of what happened 20 years ago this month at Tiananmen Square in China, where video satellite feeds kept the world informed.

Pogue also gave some advice to CE makers on how to succeed in future product launches. He said, “We buy simple,” and noted the success of iPod, iPhone, Wii, Flip camcorders and Google. “Simple keeps on winning.”

He said, “Simplicity equals joy” for consumers in consumer electronics because “you can use the product right out of the box.”

Also, “Ask us what we want,” was another piece of advice. After years of going to press conferences and asking every now and again, “Why are you introducing this format? What market research did you perform?” the answers in many cases were blank stares from assembled engineers.

Believe me, there were no blank stares during Pogue’s performance, but he did knock ‘em dead … laughing that is. In economic times like these, we certainly need a few, and Pogue delivered.