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Shapiro: There’s No Place Like CES

LAS VEGAS  Head cheerleader of innovation — Consumer Electronics Association president/ CEO — opened International CES Tuesday morning calling the show “the largest CES ever, with more than 2 million net square feet of exhibit space, the largest innovation event in the world,” during his traditional morning kickoff keynote speech at the Venetian Hotel.

The longtime CEA leader is far from a jaded observer of the industry he clearly loves. “When the show officially starts, to me it’s like that moment in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy leaves behind a grim, black-and-white world and opens the door to a full-color multidimensional experience. CES is that moment for me.”

Right at the outset, Shapiro said revenues for the CE industry are projected by CEA to grow 2.4 percent in 2014, reaching a new record high of $208 billion, “driven by product categories that didn’t exist in a meaningful way five years ago,” such as Ultra HD TVs, 3D printers and wireless health devices.

These categories among others are cumulatively expected to contribute more than $6 billion to the overall CE industry in 2014. While these emerging product categories represent less than 3 percent of the entire CE industry, they drive 65 percent of total industry revenue growth.

“We are at the forefront of a momentous wave of innovation,” said Shapiro. “The incredible growth that emerging product categories such as Ultra HDTV, wearable electronics and 3D printers will experience this year underscores the significant role new technologies play in the total consumer electronics story. These innovations will take center stage at the 2014 CES this week, and despite a recovering economy, the products on display will push the CE industry to reach new revenue levels in 2014.”

Innovation, especially disruptive innovation, was a theme of his address, but his biggest applause lines dealt with admonishing China on free trade issues, reining in patent trolls, preventing people from talking on cellphones during flights, and a new program to help recent veterans get jobs in the technology industry. “The technology industry needs many of them as employees. Tomorrow we’ll have a major announcement with several associations in the tech community on how we are going to help our veterans find jobs,” he said to a big round of applause.

“Every nation wants to highlight innovation and many of the necessary ingredients for innovation are clear. That’s why we fight for free trade, especially the Information Technology Agreement, which removes tariffs on most of our goods. We are baffled why China blew up the recent negotiations with a protectionist position.

“We urge China to rethink its position, and recognize that true international leadership means responsible engagement in the world’s economic system. With China’s willingness to return to the table and actively engage in the negotiations, a successful conclusion of ITA could lower tariff barriers globally by an estimated $800 billion.

“Removing barriers to innovation is crucial. Awesome innovations are being swamped by bogus litigation from so-called patent trolls — lawyers who do not produce any product or service but simply sue those who do. Last month the House of Representatives stood up and, with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, passed a strong bill to put an end to the patent-troll extortion racket.

“Unfortunately, this is Washington, and some in the Senate say we should slow down and wait before addressing patent abuse. We say no — this is extortion, it is killing American jobs, and it must stop immediately.”

Shapiro then ticked off the many new exhibit areas open to attendees this year. “Our doors will open this morning to 20 TechZones dedicated to emerging markets, 300 conference sessions with 850 speakers. CES is bursting with new ideas and new technologies. You will see innovative disruption all across the show floor at CES — for example, the Internet of Things, 3D printing, Ultra HDTV, driverless cars, MEMS and companies in Eureka Park — threaten to disrupt legacy industries but also are improving consumer lives with new services, lower costs, greater convenience and by creating entirely new industries.”

He noted the mobile electronics portion of the show is bigger than ever with nine top car companies exhibiting. At CES, several companies will present their vision of how driverless cars and other technologies will enhance our experience in the future — “another example of a disruptive technology that will provide new and valuable benefits.”