The Consumer Electronics Show has become a mammoth event every January in Las Vegas, but the down economy is paring it back as Cisco Systems, Yahoo, and other companies scale back their presence.
CES remains a useful way for technology companies to meet with retailers, press, and the media. But for some in the current economic climate, it's not useful enough to pay $35 per square foot for a sprawling booth on the Las Vegas Convention Center's cavernous interior.
"This was to have been Cisco's first time as a formal exhibitor," said spokesman Jim Brady. "Given (Cisco's) focus on reducing costs, the company has decided to scale down its participation in CES in Las Vegas in January 2009." Instead, the networking giant is sticking with a more modest space rented at the Venetian Hotel supplemented with videoconferencing technology.
Cisco isn't the only one to scale back. Also on the list are Yahoo, Seagate, Logitech, and Belkin, company representatives confirmed. Philips won't have a space on the CES show floor, either, though Funai, which has taken over manufacturing and selling TVs under the Philips brand in the United States, will pick up some of the slack.
The Consumer Electronics Association, which runs the show, said the show will be the third largest in terms of floor space, shrinking from its size the peak years of 2007 and 2008.
"The economy is causing some companies that may have had booths to say, 'Maybe we want to be in a meeting room instead,'" said association spokeswoman Tara Dunion. Despite it, the total number of exhibitors is level from 2008's show at about 2,700. "We're also seeing companies on the show floor for first time," including Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, Iomega, and Mattel, she said.
And there's a silver lining, too. "Vegas hotel rates are coming down because tourism travel to Vegas is slower than it's been in years. That provides an opportunity for business professionals," she said.
Incentives to show But the organizers are working hard to keep the show as lively as possible. One promotion is aimed at technology buyers--the middlemen who buy all those TVs, gadgets, cameras, and other devices before selling them to ordinary folks.