LAS VEGAS - Innovation is America's best strategy for resolving its economic challenges, and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has adopted as its prime mission the fostering of innovation, CEA president/CEO Gary Shapiro told a packed audience during his keynote address yesterday.
Whereas the main goal of some trade associations is securing government favors, "CEA's cause is the cause of innovation" and thus the "long-term health of the U.S. economy," he said.
For that reason, CEA has made CES an affordable launch venue for small startups to bring awareness of their innovations to investors and the press, Shapiro said. Past innovations launched at CES have "fueled our economy" and made people's lives better, he said.
The "culture of freedom and innovation" in the U.S., however, "is under threat," Shapiro warned. In the past, U.S. innovation has been fostered by free trade, an entrepreneurial system with flexible workplaces, a system that rewards those who succeed, and government intrusion with a light touch, among many other things, including a disdain for the status quo, Shapiro said. Unfortunately, Shapiro continued, "we definitely shifted a bit on this," pointing to a lack of new free trade agreements, more regulatory control, and government overspending.
CEA is doing its part to promote innovation by fighting such entrenched interests as TV broadcasters that are "squatting on our broadband future" by holding onto spectrum that could be used for high-speed wireless-broadband service, Shapiro said.
CES is also doing its part this year, he stressed. This year's CES is exhibiting "more innovation and cause for celebration than any event in our history," he said, pointing to a variety of innovations such as connected TVs. Connected devices will be a key contributor to future innovation, he said, forecasting that by 2014, more than 70 percent of CE products will be connected directly to the Internet. "CES is the place where innovators want to be," he added.
Many of the ideas espoused by Shapiro appear in his new book "The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream." The book became available Wednesday.