Apple at CES? Not According to CES.

By  |  Thursday, July 30, 2009 at 8:05 am

Apple CESIn a blog post reporting on a journalists’ dinner with Gary Shapiro, head of the Consumer Electronics Association, the Wall Street Journal’s Ben Charny reports that that Apple plans to attend the Consumer Electronics Show next January for “the first time in memory.” Big news! Except, as former Engadget editor-in-chief Ryan Block says, Shapiro said no such thing.

I was at the dinner, too, and there was much discussion of the question of whether Apple might ever exhibit at the show. But as Ryan says, Shapiro specifically said that the company hadn’t booked any space, and that it was too late for it to buy a large booth at next year’s show anyhow. If Charny found evidence that Apple is going to “attend” CES in any sense other than sending one or more staffers to Vegas to walk around the show floor and see what the competition is up to, it’s news to CES.

As for the WSJ’s headline–“Will Apple CEO Headline CES ’10?”–the answer would appear to be “It seems really unlikely.” Shapiro said that the CEA has invited Jobs to give a CES keynote for years, and that the Apple CEO has never expressed any interest in doing so.

I’m sure that CES would be ecstatic if Jobs suddenly agreed to keynote its event. But Shapiro said that CES likes keynotes which provide vision for the entire industry and which aren’t too self-promotional. Jobs keynotes, of course, are always profoundly Apple-centric (often snarking at other companies) and focused around products the company is about to release. And Apple decided to pull out of Macworld Expo in part because it didn’t like having to schedule product releases around somebody else’s trade show in early January.

As Apple said in its press release announcing it was saying goodbye to Macworld:

Apple is reaching more people in more ways than ever before, so like many companies, trade shows have become a very minor part of how Apple reaches its customers. The increasing popularity of Apple’s Retail Stores, which more than 3.5 million people visit every week, and the website enable Apple to directly reach more than a hundred million customers around the world in innovative new ways.

That doesn’t mean that the chances of Apple taking a newfound interest in CES are zero. But they’re way, way less than those of the company spending the same money it would have invested in a major CES presence in its own event in the same general timeframe…

[UPDATE: The San Francisco Chronicle’s Ryan Kim, who was also at the dinner, not only chimes in but provides a transcript of Gary Shapiro’s comments about Apple and CES.]

[FURTHER UPDATE: The bit about Apple attending CES is now gone from the WSJ story, which now starts with a correction: “It is not clear whether Apple will attend the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show. This post previously stated that Apple would attend.” Seems to me that all evidence–such as Apple’s failure to book show space–still suggests that it’s not unclear, but unlikely, that it’ll be there.]

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    […] Harry McCracken of Technologizer was also at the dinner, and he concurs with Block: I was at the dinner, too, and there was much discussion of the question of whether Apple might […]