I wouldn’t declare that this was a transitional year, since that phrase could be used to describe almost any CES from the last ten years. I acknowledge that it is not reasonable to judge it based on it being the first full-fledged show in three years. It was definitely odd, and there was no expectation that it would not be. For the CTA, the attendance being greater than what was assumed to be an upbeat estimate is a positive development. As for us, I am sure we are not the only ones considering how to approach CES in the future.
This week is an odd one; simultaneously strange and oddly familiar. The hotel you have been staying in for the last decade is still the same, although you are noticing changes in the people you have not seen in a while – everyone is three years older and a bit worse for wear. It had been meant to be your triumphant return to the show after two years away but your plans were cancelled due to a large increase in the number of COVID-19 cases around the holiday season, leading to a drop in attendance from 170,000 to 40,000 people. The CTA made the correct decision to make the show virtual for the first time in history, as the infrastructure was not prepared for an event of this size; however, the world has started to return to normal and so has CES.
The West Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center has been constructed in the meantime, and the majority of mobility firms have since moved there, making CES a car show. It is estimated that the attendance this year was around 115,000; although it felt lower, that is only based off of one’s feeling. Media outlets have sent fewer people than in 2020, due to remote coverage as well as financial and pandemic-related issues. The event is now officially called The International CES, as it has grown to include cars, robots, and software/apps, and is so large that it takes over the city.
The Adult Entertainment Expo that coincides with CES has been around since the 80s and 90s, and new startups have filled the void left by the big companies. This year’s focus was on putting stuff on one’s face, and VR/AR/XR was a big part of the show; however, many of the businesses are looking for enterprise solutions as prices for quality headsets remain high. The CTA is hoping to make the show more of an all-encompassing event and the Eureka Park has become the most vibrant section.
Smart home tech had a rough year, while health tech and home fitness remain strong. Crypto/web3 was not as prominent this year due to a series of bad news events. Sony made the unusual move of not announcing any TV details but instead had movie trailers. It may not have been the best show, but with attendance exceeding expectations, the CTA is likely pleased.