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CES Sets Record, Maybe Tone, For 2013

LAS VEGAS — The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) held its annual New Year’s gift to the industry – International CES – Jan. 8-11, and it set a new record, which may be a good sign for the industry in 2013.

This year’s show was the largest in the show’s 45- year history, in terms of exhibit space, with 1.92 million net square feet. The previous record was 1.86 million net square feet of space at last year’s show.

CEA, owner and producer of CES, did not divulge an estimated unaudited number of attendees (an audited number will come in the spring), but given aisle traffic and taxi lines, the 2013 event probably drew more than 150,000 and may set a new attendance record, showing that the industry is bullish on its prospects.

The show drew more than 3,250 exhibitors unveiling some 20,000 new products, and there were 35,000 attendees from more than 170 countries outside the United States.

Sales were up during 2012 and expected to increase again in 2013, according to a CEA forecast that was delivered by Gary Shapiro, CEA president/CEO, during his opening morning keynote. Projected 2013 factory level sales will be $209.6 billion, up 2.7 percent from an estimated $203.9 billion for 2012, which represents a 4.7 percent gain from the previous year.

In his keynote Shapiro championed innovation as the cure for many of America’s ills. He stated, “Innovation is our best hope for growth, jobs and advancement of the human condition. As we debate how government should tax and spend, we can agree that encouraging innovation is a strategy that helps economic growth which reduces budget deficits and is good for nations and people.”

He then lead the audience in a round of applause for the show’s exhibitors and went on to describe how — among other things — the huge trade show is the largest app event in the world, Eureka Park has 150- plus companies, and Digital Health exhibits were up 25 percent. He noted the iLounge — which caters to all things Apple — has more than 400 companies filling 120,000 net square feet and would be a large trade show unto itself.

A good portion of Shapiro’s keynote was given to innovation. “We believe so strongly in the power of innovation, we coined a new term — Ninja Innovation.”

That’s the title of his latest tome, a new book that describes what leads to success; how failure can help us succeed; and the common characteristics of successful companies’ all through the lens of the CE industry. All proceeds from the book go back to CEA to help fund industry initiatives.

“The ninja has no choice but to live by the words: Innovate or die. That is the phrase I have used on this stage for several years, and it is what defines our industry and our nation.”

He also described a few of the products launching at CES — some 20,000 — from Ultra HD TV to sensing technologies, connected vehicles and beyond, breathe renewed energy into our economy.

Industry veterans who attended CES and lauded this year’s event, agreed. Among them were John Taylor, public affairs and communications VP of LG Electronics, who said, “This has been an amazing show. The turnout from international and government guests is impressive as is the press coverage. CES is truly the mother of all trade shows!”

Tom Campbell, corporate advisor to Video & Audio Center, commented, “This was the most exciting show I have been to. From the health and wellness area, where at retail Best Buy has dedicated space to the category and shown leadership, to [Ultra] big screen TVs, CES has gone above and beyond to cover all types of [consumer] technology… and how content will be distributed at home and on the road.”

Robert Struble, president/CEO of Ibiquity Digital, noted, “There is no better place to meet and get business done. The number of representatives here from the financial community was very impressive.”

Peter Fannon, technology policy and regulatory affairs VP of Panasonic Corp. of North America, who has worked in Washington for years, said, “CES is a terrific way to inspire action and we got to meet with top government leaders.”

And a retail veteran who is now on the manufacturer side of the business, Gary Yacoubian, president, CEO and managing partner of Specialty Technologies LLC, dba SVSound, said, “There is a pervasive sense of opportunity at CES. The opportunities available here for a small company are amazing.”

And as Shapiro himself said in his keynote about the industry, “[We did] well in 2012. While we had a lot of success in 2012, much work remains to be done,” he noted. — Additional reporting by David Elrich