Gadget show goes online | Business
Every January, huge crowds descend on Las Vegas for the CES gadget show, an extravaganza of tech and glitz intended to set the tone for the coming year in consumer technology. CES kicks off this week, but thanks to the pandemic, it will be in a radical new format – a “virtual” show taking place only in cyberspace.
It’s still not entirely clear exactly how all this all is going to work, or whether the show will generate anything resembling its usual boosting effect on the tech industry.
“It’s different. Obviously we’re not going to be in Las Vegas, we’ll be spread out around the world,” said Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Technology Association, the trade group that produces CES. “But I think there’s an attitude that because of COVID that we’re all in this together and that is what the CES is about.”
The show will be a trade-off, Shapiro said. Forget the attention-getting spectacles, such as dazzling wall-high TV displays and Google’s theme-park ride from two years ago. Instead, Shapiro said, there will be a chance for a more personalized experience that attendees can set up in advance based on their particular interests.
That’s the optimistic view. On the flip side, smaller exhibitors are less likely to get noticed without a show floor. Serendipitous meetings between entrepreneurs and investors, potential acquirers and acquirees, job-seekers and employers – all common to the world’s largest tech show – will probably be scarce.
More than 150,000 attendees and 1,800 exhibitors will take part in CES through Thursday, a show that will now consist of virtual keynote speeches, product demonstrations and panel discussions. Plus, there’s the opportunity to network in virtual meeting rooms.
Last year in the physical show, there were about 170,000 attendees and 4,400 exhibitors. The number of exhibitors were capped this year at 2,000 to ensure that the online experience, which is being run by Microsoft, was optimal.