By Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY
The world’s biggest trade show wants to get smaller in 2016.
Attendees begin descending on Las Vegas this weekend for the 48th annual Consumer Electronics Show, a bazaar of the latest new gadgets, hardware and technology.
“We want to make sure people can still get around the show, have a good time and that the show continues,” says Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which stages CES.
Last year, some 175,000 people attended. This year, Shapiro hopes to whack it down to 150,000. He’s doing that by getting tighter on admission and press eligibility. The CTA also plans to beef up security by inspecting bags and banning luggage.
An estimated 1 million drones were sold in 2015, when the Federal Aviation Administration set forth new rules requiring registration by consumers.
Still, “everyone is fascinated with flight,” says Richard Doherty, an analyst with the Envisioneering Group. “You’ll probably see at least 100 new drones introduced at CES.”
For all the hype about new tech, the TVs always steal the show at CES, if for no other reason that they’re so large.
Past CES shows have featured high-profile introductions like high-definition television, TiVo DVR, satellite TV and the earliest smartphones.
What you won’t see on the floor are the most important names in consumer technology: Apple and Amazon don’t exhibit. Instead, Sony, Samsung, LG and other Asian manufacturers dominate the show floor, with the biggest, most exciting booths.
CES isn’t about the new production innovations, says longtime tech analyst Tim Bajarin, of Creative Strategies.
“It’s about deal-making and networking,” he says. “People go there to speak with vendors, look at potential trends and dealers go to shop for next Christmas.”
New start-ups save their money and place the biggest bet of all by gambling on a small booth in one of the more out-of-the-way exhibit areas, in hopes of finding an investor or acquirer.
Very few have made it out of there. It rarely happens.
But hey, it’s Vegas, the land of dreams, right?
Follow Jefferson Graham on Twitter @jeffersongraham.