Is CES Dying?

The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) starts on Tuesday (press events began yesterday) in Las Vegas.  Every year, this gadget extravaganza brings tens of thousands of people to the Las Vegas Convention Center to wander amongst the flashing lights and beeping sounds of the booths at the show.  Over 144,000 are expected this year.

But fewer and fewer major brand companies are unveiling new products at the show.  Press events have proven that, with only a handful of new major products being announced on the traditional Sunday press unveilings.

Instead, the show is more about small gadgets and more and more it’s about foreign gadgetiers – especially Asian companies – showing off their wares.  Apple never releases new items at CES, neither does Microsoft, and Amazon chose to go solo with a non-CES press event for thier Kindle Fire unveil as well.

Instead, CES is mainly becoming about televisions, audio equipment, and so on.  In fact, this year marks the last that Microsoft will be at the show at all and no major CEO of any large computer or telecomm company is keynote speaking at CES with the exception of Microsoft’s Ballmer.  Hewlett-Packard did its last CES appearance in 2009 and Dell left soon after.

The show will have about 1,000 less vendors thsi year compared to last and attendance is expected to be slower, down by 8-10,000.

The show’s promoters like to say that it has “no rivals” in the industry, but that may be because there is no longer a call for events like this.  More localized, specialized events like South by Southwest (SXSW) seem to be gaining popularity as CES wanes.

Perhaps it’s the end of an era then.

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