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CES: ‘Nobody Goes There Anymore; It’s Too Crowded’

At the end of June, just about six months after CES 2016, Vault Consulting reporting that the show hit a new attendance record: 177,393.

This is after its producer, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), tried to cap it at 176,000. But in the words of a great philosopher* and thinker once said, “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

Meanwhile, six months from now, CES will celebrate its 50th birthday, marking the 1967 launch by the legendary Jack Wayman in New York.

If you had told the master showman back in ’67 that over 177,000 attendees would attend the show this year, even he wouldn’t have believed it. 

But Wayman would have believed that the news generated from the show would echo months after attendees, exhibitors, politicians, policy makers and the media left Vegas. That’s because in my 34 years of attending CES in its Summer, Winter, International and other versions, news of products, technologies and trends reach consumers and the trade last throughout the year.

That trend continues, but what amazes me now is that the diversity of technology unveiled at CES that changes everyone’s lives today — heck, it isn’t just home audio and color TV anymore — matches the diversity of the coverage that I read and heard in the past few weeks.

For instance, I was driving a couple of weeks ago listening to Mike Francesca of sports radio station WFAN in New York talk about the marketing of athletes and saying how Under Armour, among others, is adding technology to its apparel to measure performance and health indicators.

I also noticed the June 19 issue of The New York Times Magazine included two stories based on introductions and issues presented at this year’s CES. The cover story was about Netflix has changed the way we watch TV and another story was called, “Just How ‘Smart’ Do You Want Your Blender to Be?”

Whether you agree or disagree with either story, the impact of CES as it celebrates its semicentennial in January is that it continues to set the technology agenda for the coming calendar year, and is far more profound than ever before.

As the late Don Patrican, marketing and sales guru in the blank media and accessories industries, once said, “CES is the Super Bowl of this industry, except we get to go every year.”

See you in Vegas this January.

*Yogi Berra, Baseball Hall of Famer and American icon.

Steve Smith is editor at large for TWICE and was its longtime editor in chief.