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CEA Opens Doors To Consumers

San Francisco – The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)
will invite individuals — consumers — to become part of CEA, and to celebrate
membership they will be able to attend the last day of the 2011 International
CES in January.

That was the main surprise in the keynote of Gary Shapiro,
president/CEO of CEA, during his keynote speech at Tuesday lunch during the
organization’s Industry Forum, being held at the Fairmont Hotel, here, in which
he discussed the industry, the economy and a little politics.

Consumers will be invited to become members of CEA for the
first time — who will be called Consumer Technology Enthusiasts, or CTEs.

These new members will be able to participate in beta tests
of new products, be part of an online community, and be given insider access to
the industry, Shapiro said.

Jason Oxman, industry affairs senior VP with CEA, told TWICE
the first 1000 CTEs will be allowed to officially visit International CES as
attendees in a “one-time opportunity to celebrate membership” on the last day
of the show, Sunday, Jan. 9.

The recruitment program will begin on Nov. 9 with
information on membership fees and other details, which will be announced by
CEA at its annual International CEA press event in New York on that day.

CEA opened the doors to CES once before at one of the last
Summer CES events Chicago in the early 1990s. Tickets were sold to enter the
convention the last day, but consumers did not become CEA members then and the
one-time experiment was subsequently dropped.

The reason why CEA has opened its membership to consumers is
that it is in the “self-interest” of the industry in that it could get
consumers more involved in its CEAPAC efforts, find out more about its public
policies, and “the interaction with consumers will be great.”

Regarding efforts, contributors, many of them
members of CEA, gave $140,000 to lobby Congress on the industry’s behalf.

Shapiro expounded on issues he discussed in an exclusive


interview Monday.

First off, he said that the industry has had a “pretty good
year” given the “prolonged recession” the U.S. economy was suffering from.

He said that CEA expects manufacturer shipments in calendar
year 2010 to reach $175 billion, up 3 percent from 2009, and they should have a
4 percent gain in calendar year 2011 to $182 billion.

Shapiro said that consumers consider CE products to be
“necessities vs. luxuries.”

The CEA president recounted ongoing battles over mandating
FM chips to be put in cellphones and other national and state issues, such as
the California recycling law.

But Shapiro expounded on CEA’s Innovation Movement that
pushed the notion that innovation is the best change the U.S. has for economic
growth and requires free trade.

He hopes that in this election year, and in its aftermath,
the “vilification of China” by both major parties will calm down since the
country is a major trading partner with the U.S. And Shapiro called on Congress
to approve the free-trade deal with Korea, which he said “President Obama wants

Shapiro said after the election, with Congress probably
being split, the next two years “will be difficult” in Washington leading up to
the 2012 presidential election, which is “not in the best interests of the

Speaking of elections, at least on the CEA level, Randy Fry
of Fry’s Electronics was elected chairman of CEA at the annual member meeting
during the luncheon, making him the second retail chairman since the
organization opened its doors to retailers in 2003.

He replaces Gary Yacoubian, now strategic development VP at
Monster Cable Products, who was elected chairman when he was president of
Maryland-based MyerEmco, which closed earlier this year.

Separately, Shapiro told the audience how proud he was that
the 2009 International CES won America’s Greenest Show award a few weeks ago.
Right after the speech it was announced by CEA that Newsweek recognized several
member companies as being the nation’s greenest.

Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Intel (ranked 1, 2, 3 and 5,
respectively) took four of the top five spots on the list, which ranked
America’s 500 largest corporations according to environmental impact, green
policies and reputation. Ten of the top 13 companies were technology
corporations. Newsweek also included Sony, Panasonic and Toshiba in its top 10
list of the greenest global companies.