Wednesday, November 12, 2008

CES: Huge Leaps or Status Quo?

As anyone in the CE industry knows, CES, North America's largest technology trade show, is fast approaching. Returning to Las Vegas this January, the show will feature everything from the latest in consumer electronics, computing, wireless technology and other portable gadgets, digital imaging, and entertainment. You name it: if it's a really influential, really cool, and attention-getting device or technology, it'll be at CES. But just as quickly as all the facets of the technology industry are coming together in harmony, so, too are they branching off in various directions. Because of this, does CES still have the same clout that it used to?

When you think about it, the show, despite its massive magnitude, is surrounded by several other smaller, more focused events. In September, CEDIA EXPO is where the custom A/V companies congregate, while PMA EXPO, held in March, is the show for the photo industry. If you're looking at wireless, whether we're talking handsets, software, apps, or business systems, April's CTIA WIRELESS event is a must-attend. Do you work on the commercial side of things? Then InfoComm is the show for you! So where does this leave CES?

Sure, CES gets the most media attention, and the most visitors, especially internationally. Because of this, many companies hold out for the iconic show to make major announcements. But what if you don't have that much happening in a year? If you're a flat-panel TV maker, for example, you can't hold back the following year's big items until January. Then what will you show at CEDIA? Hey, here's my old stuff. Thanks for coming. See you at CES! (?) Likewise, a camera maker might wait until March to make its big announcements at PMA, but then what do they show at CES? Do you divy up the line-up, showing off some teasers at CES followed by the grand reveal at PMA? Granted, it makes absolutely perfect sense to display the same products at CES that you did at CEDIA or PMA or whatever show floats your boat, because the smaller-scale events certainly don't target the same, massively mainstream audience that CES does. But if your dealers, partners, and specifically targeted media members were already at that other show, is CES worth it for the remaining exposure you're going to get?

The answer to this, of course, depends on a number of factors. How much does the rest of the exposure mean to you? What percentage of your dealers attend CES but don't attend the other targeted show(s), whether that be CEDIA, PMA, or what have you? How important is your message to both targeted and mainstream audiences? And finally, how major is the new product or technology that you're featuring this year? Even if it isn't a "revolutionary" breakthrough as so many companies claim the smallest adjustment to represent, the more exposure your company gets, the better. Exposure is everything. As they say, people might not notice you were there, but they'll certainly notice that you weren't.

With that said, while the 2009 CES might very well be a "status quo" year where we don't see any mind-blowing technologies introduced like we might have in previous years (Blu-ray and HD DVD, flat-panels TVs and 1080p, digital photo frames, and satellite radio, to name a few), it still remains a worthy event to attend if you're in the industry.

**Speaking of those in the industry, I'd love to know your favourite spots in Vegas to take dealers/clients, hang out for a drink or two, or relax during down time. If you send your top recommendation(s) to me via e-mail at, we'll compile a "top spots" list to publish in the mag and/or online that you can peruse and get some ideas. Because hey, just as much as the show is about learning about products, it's also about wining and dining your dealers, potential dealers, and American/overseas affiliates. Here are a few of my recommendations to get you started:

Japonais in the Mirage Hotel: it serves a fusion of Japanese and French food, and has sushi dishes that are absolutely amazing. The ambience is great, and service is impeccable.

Cirque de Soleil’s LOVE at the Mirage: It’s an exciting, captivating show that’s worth experiencing at least once, especially if you’re a Beatles fan.

The Shadow Bar in Caesar’s Palace: Having stayed in that hotel for the past three years, it’s almost become like my “local bar” a few times every year. It can, in many ways, be considered the new Bugsy’s Bar because it often ends up being a meeting place for Canucks. You’re sure to run into some Canadian industry members there.

And of course who can forget Canada Night at Caesar’s Palace: It’s the event for the Canadian consumer electronics industry. No invitation is required, and all are welcome. We’ll see you there on Friday, January 9, 2009 at 6 p.m.! Click Here for more details.

The deadline to send me your suggestion(s) is November 20, 2008.

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