LAS VEGAS - Gary Shapiro, president/CEO
of the Consumer Electronics Association, wasn't quite as colorful as Queen
Elizabeth's pronouncement of Annus Horribilis - referring to a horrible year
for the Royal Family - but said he was happy to see 2009 enter the history
driven to center stage at the Hilton
Center where he made his state
of the industry comments prior to introducing keynoter Ford CEO Alan Mulally Thursday morning. (See story at right.)
Shapiro noted, "2009 was the most challenging year of our lives,"
referring to the near collapse the economy suffered. "We've come back from the
brink," and he predicted things would get a lot better in the days ahead thanks
to the innovation driving the CE business.
Shapiro noted the industry saw its first revenue drop in 20 years,
with sales showing a 7 percent decline while total units grew 10 percent. "Even
though we sold more devices no one wants to see a repeat of 2009," and he
predicted slight revenue growth in 2010.
Shapiro - who takes his role as cheerleader for the industry very
seriously - proceeded to detail the breaking technologies unveiled at the show,
the unprecedented pace of announcements and the record number of new exhibitors
in Las Vegas (300-plus out of 2,500), "all here at the greatest show on
All wasn't peaches and cream as he enumerated some of the
challenges facing the industry such as hodgepodge of energy-saving and
recycling laws sprouting like unwanted rashes on a supermodel's face.
Shapiro particularly lambasted New York City's
new recycling law ("It's ridiculous") and California's technology-crushing energy
rules. Congress came in for its share of abuse as Shapiro castigated the
government for not passing a variety of free trade pacts. This was all part of
his theme that free markets and innovation are the best ways for America to rebound and face the future.