New York — Saying that “American consumers have a love affair with consumer electronics,” Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) president/CEO Gary Shapiro kicked off the annual International CES press preview, here.
The annual event, held at the still-new Time Warner Center and its neighbor, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, showcased some new additions to the 2005 International CES, to be held in Las Vegas, Jan. 6-9, since the last CEA press conference for the West Coast press in mid-October see (CEA’s CES Goal: Quality, Not Quantity.) Another keynote speaker was also announced.
The new speaker is Edward E. Whitacre Jr., chairman/CEO of SBC Communications, who will address the show on Thursday, Jan. 6.
Karen Chupka, events and conferences VP, confirmed many of the basic numbers of the show, namely that 1.5 million square feet of exhibit space will house 2,400 exhibitors with more than 120,000 attendees expected. While the show drew around 132,000 this year, Chupka confirmed a recurring theme from the San Francisco press briefing, that CEA would not be upset if there were a reduced number of attendees vs. last year, as long as they were of high quality.
When asked if CES this year would pick up a number of exhibitors due to the demise of Fall Comdex, Chupka noted, “During the past two or three years we already picked up those companies who would want to exhibit with us” instead of Comdex.
To deal with the crowds at the show, whether attendance is at 120,000 or 132,000, CEA and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have implemented new strategies to ease movement for attendees in and around Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Convention Center.
In order to ease navigation of the show floor at CES, specific areas are organized using icons and color blocks. To direct attendees to various CE product categories the icons represent audio, digital imaging, emerging technology, gaming, home networking, home theater/video, mobile electronics and wireless communications. In addition, color blocks highlighted on maps, signage and carpeting throughout the LVCC will help attendees find venues and exhibitors. (A full listing of icons and photos of the color blocks is available at www.cesweb.org/attendees/show_floor/areas.)
In conjunction with the Las Vegas Convention Center, CES has implemented strategies to improve attendees’ show experience. Extra traffic personnel, additional shuttle buses and more staging areas for passenger pickup will ease movement in and around the area. Again this year, the South Hall will open one hour earlier on opening day, at 9 a.m., to allow attendees who register onsite for the 2005 International CES to begin flowing through the building.
As for the long-awaited and much-discussed Las Vegas monorail, which was scheduled to operate at the show, it will not be operating and there is no prognosis as to when it might be up and running. Chupka commented that the absence of the monorail won’t hurt traffic flow. “With all of our other plans in place, if the monorail were in operation, it would just be gravy.”
CES includes venues at the Convention Center, the Las Vegas Hilton, the Alexis Park and the Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel, which is opening next month. Chupka noted that in an effort to “enhance the exhibitor experience” CEA is “reaching new buying audiences, negotiating lower prices with event contractors and keeping exhibit prices at the same levels through 2006.”
CES attendees will get an exclusive view of some of the hottest technologies and trends, including home recording technologies, VoIP, wireless and digital imaging at more than 20 TechZones located throughout the show floor. CES TechZones bring together products and technologies from a variety of exhibitors to spotlight emerging trends and the latest technologies.
Seventeen of the TechZones will be located in the new CES central and south plazas, with the highest concentration located in Innovations Plus in the CES central plaza outside the Las Vegas Convention Center. Tech Zones in this area include those focusing on Bluetooth, Cardio Play, RFID, Studio@Home and TechHome. In addition to housing the Tech Zones, Innovations Plus also features the 2005 International CES Innovations honorees displays.
A sample of these TechZones include: Cardio Play Zone, Connected Home Entertainment, Consumer VoIp (sponsored by pulver.com), Digital Car/Telematics, Flash Forward 2.0, MBOA Ultrawideband, RFID and Studio@Home & HD Pro Showcase. (For a complete list of TechZones, visit www.cesweb.org/techzones.)