Convergence Becomes Focus Of CES

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International CES celebrated its 40th anniversary not only with the usual array of new technologies and products, but also with the attendance of leaders in a wide variety of content industries — both as attendees and guest speakers.

While initial attendance estimates by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), producer of CES, put the number at 140,000, slightly lower than last year's 152,000, the show set records for the most exhibit space ever — 1.8 million net square feet from 2,700 exhibitors. (International CES independently audits attendance and a final number should be available in April.)

While one would expect Gary Shapiro, president/CEO of CEA, to say that CES 2007 "had buzz and optimism and attracted the world leaders of the content, technology and services, communications and automobile industries," few attending would dispute his claim.

Among the notables who attended and addressed the CES throng were: Microsoft's Bill Gates, Ed Zander of Motorola, Robert Iger of Disney, Michael Dell of Dell, Nokia's Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, Leslie Moonves of CBS, John Chambers of Cisco Systems, FCC chairman Kevin Martin, and a crew of top satellite TV and cable TV executives including Chase Carey of DirecTV and Charlie Ergen of EchoStar.

In his keynote on the opening morning of the show, Shapiro said, "We are at the starting line" of a new era of convergence with the CE industry's partners that "include content producers, programmers, software companies, service companies and broadband providers," all being represented here in Las Vegas by exhibitors, speakers and guests.

While CES went head-to-head with MacWorld and Apple's introductions of iPhone and iTV (see story on p. 1), CEA estimated that more than 20,000 product launches and "major partnership announcements, spanning across industries" were made during the show. If you speak with any reporter who covered the show, that number sounded about right.

The venues for the show changed this year. Karen Chupka, senior VP of events and conferences at CEA. "The shift of our high-performance audio and home theater exhibitors to the Venetian, the 23 Tech Zones and the focus on qualified trade attendees combined to produce what many called the best ever International CES. We also set a record with international attendance of over 26,000."

Of course HDTV was a major highlight at the show, with proponents of the various display technologies pitching their individual lines and trying to prove that the formats they are backing are best.

And when it comes to video format battles Blu-ray and HD DVD proponents were in attendance introducing products and trying to prove that they had the winning formula. Two companies tried to calm the waters between both camps, LG Electronics with its deck that plays both HD formats (see p. 1) and Warner Bros. with a flipper disc that holds both formats. (See p. 16.)

For more on all the goings-on at CES, see coverage in just about every section of this issue, our next issue on Jan. 29 and online at www.TWICE.com.

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