It's hard to overstate the impact of an event like the Consumer Electronics Show. This year CES, the world's largest consumer technology trade show, is expected to draw about 110,000 attendees (roughly on par with last year, after a recession-related drop of more than 20 percent from 2008) representing 140 countries. Also on hand are about 2,500 exhibitors in a tourism-challenged Las Vegas—where ordinary midweek room rates have jumped from dozens of dollars to hundreds.
The Consumer Electronics Association owns and produces the conference, which formally opened at the Las Vegas Convention Center and hotels around town Thursday and continues through Sunday, with unofficial and official events starting earlier and ending later.
Although attendance was roughly unchanged from last year, the mood on the floor was optimistic. “You could have rolled a bowling ball down the halls last year,” remarked one showgoer, who felt CES was as robust as ever, even if there weren't more attendees. Another sign that the crowd was hopeful: A record number of more than 330 new exhibitors turned up for the 2010 event. And show officials announced that the industry will generate more than $165 billion in U.S. shipment revenues this year, a slight increase over 2009.
“2009 is a year none of us wish to repeat, and now we look forward to 2010. There is light at the end of the tunnel and it is the bright light of innovation,” said C.E.A. president and C.E.O. Gary Shapiro in his opening remarks at the show. “We are seeing more innovation at this show than at any show in our history.”
Among the offerings for the crush of attendees were the “Follow Me” tool, an interactive smart phone app offering real-time show alerts and interactive floor maps. Also on hand to aid frenetic showgoers in the convention center were reps from 5-Hour Energy, which hawked product to the crowd. “My first gimme,” said one passerby, scooping up a shot on the first day of the program. “I need this real bad,” said another, anticipating a long and busy show.