Emphasis on electronics wanes as linked industries bloom
Despite notable absentees like Microsoft, Google and Apple, others have filled the void and the event is still pulling in the numbers
Marissa Mayer, president and CEO of Yahoo, speaks at the consumer electronics show CES in Las Vegas. Photograph: Britta Pedersen/EPA
Big announcements are often made ahead of the show or at alternative events throughout the year. And when Microsoft decided it would no longer play a key role in the event, there were musings about the potential demise of the show.
But two years on, it’s still pulling in the numbers. True, there are still some notable absences – neither Google nor Apple have their own exhibits, although there are plenty of stands
that link in to both companies’ products.
But those high-profile companies have been replaced by others that are keen to fill the void, and in a big way. Microsoft’s traditional stand opposite Intel has, for the second year, been occupied by Chinese firm Hisense. Huawei and ZTE are also a noticeable presence.
Cisco, buoyed no doubt by the surge of interest in connected devices and the concept of the “internet of things”, is on the main show floor for the first time.
At the last official count, there were more than 3,200 exhibitors, and more than 150,000 attendees are expected to walk through the doors before the show closes tomorrow.
Keynote speeches this year were delivered by Sony chief Kaz Hirai, Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich, Cisco boss John Chambers, and Yahoo head Marissa Mayer, to name but a few.
The show has evolved considerably over the years. Once known as the Consumer Electronics Show, the CEA now prefers to use the title International CES, with polite but firm direction that it should not be referred to by its previous title.
Mobile, social and cloud
It’s not difficult to see why. Each year, the show is less about consumer electronics and more about the industries that have sprung up around it – mobile, social and cloud are increasingly present around the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Centre.
And with that much innovation around, it can all get a bit infectious. There was a bit more of a buzz around the hall of the convention centre this year than in previous years, less of the sense that everyone had become jaded by the same companies offering a slightly improved product, or trying to push a technology simply for their own benefit.
The growth in 3D printing led to some interesting products being showcased at CES, and Irish company Mcor Technologies, which uses ordinary A4 paper to create models and objects, was among the exhibitors.
Admittedly though, there were some sectors that have been done to death. It feels like there is an endless stream of companies jumping into wearable technology “just because”, with very little to differentiate many of the products from rivals.
But it’s still an interesting market, with plenty of variety if you’re prepared to wade through the smaller stalls to search it out.
Next big thing
Some technologies touted as the big draws for previous CES events have since sunk with barely a trace.
A few years ago it was 3D that was being proclaimed as the next big thing for the TV industry; this year, you’d be hard pressed to find one of the major TV companies selling the same line, although there are some firms
persisting with a “glasses-free” 3D screen.
It’s likely that some of the technology lauded at this year’s show will meet a similar fate, but what exactly will end up on the scrap heap will become more apparent as the year progresses.