Tag Archives | Tradshows

Maybe They Should Call It the Compact Electronics Show

ceslogoFor tech journalists, the busiest week of all is the first full one of the year. It starts with San Francisco’s Macworld Expo, which involves a whole lot of hoopla about a handful of products (Apple ones, naturally). And then it segues into the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, at which no single product will receive a hundredth of the attention reaped by Apple’s Macworld news. But at CES there are thousands of new products, from nearly every company in the industry except Apple. The show packs Vegas to the rafters, and attendees fill just about every hotel room in the city.

cesshrinkingOr so they have for many years–especially after Comdex, once the nation’s biggest tech trade show, went to the great convention center in the sky after its 2003 edition. But with a little more than a month to go until CES 2009 and the economy in tatters, there are rumblings that the show’s hypergrowth may have stalled. CNBC’s Jim Goldman is reporting that the Consumer Electronics Association, which runs the show, is saying that this year’s version will be down from 2008 and 2007 in terms of floor space. It’s not saying whether it’ll be down a little or a lot. But hotel room rates, which have been gougingly high in recent years, are coming down this time around–a sure sign that fewer conventioneers are planning to make the pricey trek to the desert.

Anecdotally, a lot of the folks I see every year at CES are telling me that they won’t be there this year…and not one of them seems griefstricken at the prospect of missing it. That’s not a good sign for the show’s health: Comdex managed the incredible feat of going from being the country’s largest trade show of any sort to irrelevance and death in just a few years in part because people disliked attending it and discovered that they didn’t have to. I’m kind of assuming that the CES bubble will burst in similar fashion someday; I don’t know if this will be the year it happens, but it’s worth noting that external forces (the 2000 stock market meltdown and 9/11) probably hastened Comdex’s demise.

Me, I’m still looking forward to the trip to CES–when I worked at PC World I tended to spend most of the show holed up in a PCW conference suite at the Las Vegas Hilton, but this year I figure I’ll be able to roam around and actually see stuff. I’ve always said the only thing I’d find more stressful than attending CES is not attending CES; I hope I still feel that way after next month’s show.

And hey, a slightly smaller, more managable CES might be more enjoyable and productive. Even if only .000001% of the items at the show are a big whoop, I’ll have plenty of stuff to report on here at Technologizer…