The promotional drumbeat for the 2004 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) began as the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), producer of the show, held its annual press reception last Wednesday at the Essex House hotel.
The show will be the largest CES ever, with more than 110,000 attendees from 110 countries and 2,200 exhibitors expected, taking 1.3 million square feet of space to show their wares and discuss major new technologies and industry issues. The show will be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Jan. 8-11, 2004.
"With more than 110,000 from more than 110 different countries … CES is the global meeting place for consumer electronics technology," said Gary Shapiro, CEA president/CEO. He noted that CES will continue to attract top government leaders from Washington, but this year the show will also have top dignitaries from foreign governments in attendance to discuss common technology issues.
To prepare the assembled press corps for what they will face at CES, Karen Chupka, events and conferences VP for CEA, gave a graphic explanation of how big 1.3 million square feet of exhibit space really is by saying at the press briefing, "Imagine 48 football fields of technology."
Top technology executives will be making keynote speeches and what CEA calls "Industry Insider" addresses. The opening morning lineup includes Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft; CEA's Shapiro; Kathy Gornik, president of Thiel Audio Products and chair of CEA; and Fumio Ohtsubo, president of Panasonic AVC Networks and senior managing director of parent company Matsushita. Among the other key speakers are Carly Fiorina, chairman/CEO of Hewlett-Packard; Gary Forsee, chairman/CEO of Sprint; Paul S. Otellini, president/CEO of Intel; and Ivan Seidenberg, CEO of Verizon.
Gaming is back at CES with Microsoft's XBox and Sony's PlayStation being featured in major exhibits on the show floor. In fact, Sony's exhibit will be their first on the show floor since 1995, according to Chupka.
In addition the ATI/AMD Cyber X Games Championships — considered by some to be the world's biggest gamer competition — will move to CES. The event is expected to draw thousands of the world's top computer and video game players who will compete for a share of $600,000 in cash and prizes over the course of several qualifying tournaments.
And the day before the show opens, Jan. 7 at the Riviera Hotel, there will be the first-ever Digital Games Summit that will focus on business issues for the electronic games industry. Robbie Boch, chief XBox officer for the system of the same name, will kick off the summit.
CEA is using TechZones at the show to highlight some key technologies, which include Bluetooth, MP3 and Internet audio, USB, distributed audio and several others. These TechZones, located throughout the show floor, enables attendees to see and experience the products that make these technologies go.
For digital imaging the Flash Forward TechZone will feature digital cameras and camcorders, image and video software, home photo printing and many more technologies and products. In audio there will be CES Partner Programs featuring seminars and educational forums with organizations such as CEDIA, Digital Hollywood and Storage Visions.
In mobile electronics attendees can learn about the latest in GPS, telematics, mobile entertainment, car audio, satellite radio and others with more than 275,000 square feet of space devoted to more than 260 mobile electronics exhibitors. Among the highlights in this category will be the new NOPI Showcase in the Gold Lot of the Convention Center, which will feature aftermarket care accessories; and the two-day Select Products MECP Installer Challenge competition.
CEA calls CES the "world's largest wireless technology trade show," this year featuring hundreds of exhibitors in the category, six wireless conference sessions and the speeches by Verizon's Seidenberg and Sprint's Forsee. New products and technology discussions on wireless gaming, WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth and 3G, among others, will be featured.
Some of the largest players in home networking — HAI, OnQ, Leviton, Crestron, X-10 and GE — will be exhibiting and the TechZone for this category will include displays of mobile computing featuring table PC technologies, home broadband and distributed audio.