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Majaps Belong At CES

Maybe because TWICE and my previous employer, Home Furnishings News, have both covered consumer electronics and major appliances, I’ve never seen them as completely separate industries.

That’s especially true in the past decade, where majaps became more technologically advanced and moved from being a replacement business to a fashion category. The latter may have changed somewhat in the past couple of years due to the economy, but what hasn’t changed is that many of the places consumers buy CE products in this country is where they also buy majaps.

So I took it as a logical evolution of International CES that it is opening its show floor in January to major appliance companies in its inaugural Connected Home Appliances TechZone. GE Appliances and Sears’ Kenmore have signed up, and I know I’m going out on a limb on this one, but I fully expect LG, Samsung and Whirlpool, among others, to be represented in Vegas at CES.

What also has amused me over the years is that some in the CE industry, many in the traditional audio/video side of the business, have made disparaging comments when white goods and CE products are mentioned in the same sentence.

I was reminded of that view from a recent Talkback on our site about CES taking in major appliance exhibitors. In part, this is what Mike Johnson, a CE professional from California, had to say: “Another example of how CES continues to grow larger yet becomes less relevant to all. To paraphrase the immortal Yogi Berra, ‘Nobody goes to CES anymore, it’s too crowded.’ This is the main reason that the CEDIA Expo has evolved as the more important show for anybody in the A/V business.”

I’m no apologist for the Consumer Electronics Association or CES, but I understand Mr. Johnson’s complaints about CES crowds — it is the largest consumer technology trade show in the world. And I’m looking forward to going to Atlanta to visit CEDIA Expo.

But I have to point out that CES hasn’t been an A/V-only show for more than 30 years.

When I began to attend CES in the early 1980s, home phones, home office products, early home PCs and video games were all over the show floor, as well as electronic handheld toys of that era, CB radios and … you get the picture.

Home, portable and car A/V electronics are still the core of the CE industry.

But CES continues to evolve with the industry to include all types of technologies consumers use (and can buy at retail) on a daily basis. I fully expect home energy-management systems, home medical systems and even home solar panels — if they ever get the cost down — to be part of CES.

Even CEDIA Expo is including some of those categories on its show floor this week and will see a New Technology area with many of those categories being featured.

Mr. Johnson, yes, major appliances are not what many would think of when you say “consumer electronics,” but a few years ago people wouldn’t think of computers and cellphones as being CE products either.