That's All She Wrote

The CES exhibits officially closed Friday at 4 pm, West Coast time, although a CES Closing Party was scheduled to run until 4 am. I did not attend that party.

Back in the day, for many, many years, this convention was called the "Consumer Electronics Show." Then a few years ago, the name was changed to "CES." Everyone in the press was informed that under no circumstances should they ever again refer to the event as the "Consumer Electronics Show." No explanation was ever given. But a certain threat level was implied for anyone who broke that rule.

You can gauge the health of the industry, and probably the worldwide economy, by the attendance numbers. For example, after steadily rising numbers, attendance at the 2009 convention tumbled to 113,000 people (a 22% decline) because of the global financial meltdown. This year fielded the largest show floor ever with 2.75 million net square feet of exhibit space which semed barely able to contain 184,000 people. In other news, the stock market is up.

The audio/video sector certainly looked good to me. For every traditional company that is fading, there were two more new ones taking up the slack. That turnover is a sign of a natural and healthy evolution. You don't want "legacy" companies to dominate forever because that can eventually calcify an industry. You need new companies and the disruption they bring. There was plenty of disruption.

Hi-Res Audio, while not headline news, was well represented by hardware and content companies. It is my opinion that Hi-Res is here to stay, having carved out a respectable niche in the market for discerning audiophiles.

Conversely, the single most important technology at the convention was smart speakers. Apple does not do the convention so Siri was a no-show. But Alexa, Google, and Cortana were on everyone's lips, literally. Their respective corporate giants completely understand the importance of this market and I'm sure their minions were working overtime to sew up as many licensing deals as possible.

Plastered everywhere, in printed banners and lighted displays, was the phrase "Hey Google." Clearly, the company wanted to drive home the point, to everyone in Las Vegas this week, that saying "Hey Google" was the cool thing to do. The question is, how should we juxtapose that with the already ingrained habit of saying "Okay Google?" I guess the speakers and phones will figure it out.

Will Google overtake Amazon in the all-important smart speaker category? It might. Google has the clout to even start dreaming of world domination. On the other hand, Google built a gigantic outdoor pavilion (with "Hey Google" in a thousand-foot tall font) with a less than watertight roof and then it rained (admittedly a rare thing in Las Vegas) so the pavilion had to be shut down. So, world domination is never a sure thing.

Finally, you may be wondering if there were any booth babes (also euphemistically called "CES Guides"). What's wrong with you? Of course there weren't any. I am pretty certain that, in fact, swimsuits of any kind are banned from the show floor.

I still call it the "Consumer Electronics Show." I am a rebel. Next year I am bringing a swimsuit.

eugovector's picture

Um...there were definitely "booth babes." I didn't see any swimsuits, but there were several vendors raising hemlines and lowering necklines in skin tight dresses, but only for the females. Which vendors? I couldn't tell you. I don't care if you're the biggest name in audio: if you use booth babes I don't even note your name.