CES chief muses on what to expect this year

Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, talks big numbers for next week's extravaganza in Vegas.

CEA CEO Gary ShapiroPhoto by Consumer Electronics Association

Consumer Electronics Association CEO Gary Shapiro talks big numbers when he describes this year's Consumer Electronics Show, which takes over Las Vegas next week.

He is expecting more than 140,000 visitors who will collectively crisscross the more than 1.8 million net square feet of exhibit space and visit more than 2,700 exhibitors.

For one company, this CES will be its last. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will give the opening keynote at CES 2012. But the company announced last month that in 2013, it will no longer host a booth or lead a keynote there.

"They've had a great run of 14 keynotes. Bill Gates was phenomenal. He drew quite a crowd. They introduced a whole range of products there," Shapiro said, noting that keynote spot "goes to visionary leaders that have a lot to say." Other keynoter speakers this year, said Shapiro, include CEOs from Qualcomm, Intel, Ericsson, Ford, and Daimler/Mercedes Benz.

Apple absent but...
Apple never participates in CES, but its presence will be felt in the iLounge where Shapiro expects 300 companies to show off everything from apps to cases to accessories for iPhones and iPads, "taking up the space of a normal-sized trade show." Going forward, Shapiro said he will issue an invitation to Apple CEO Tim Cook as he did in the past to Steve Jobs. "We're always hopeful," he said.

In regards to the top dogs, Shapiro said the "little secret" is that CES is run "not for the biggest companies but for the smallest entrepreneur with an idea, so they can be exposed to the nearly 150,000 people from the industry." The show this year will introduce a new area called Eureka Park, "which has attracted almost 100 start-up companies as determined by the National Science Foundation."

Popular items at this year's CES, Shapiro said, will be tablets, ultrabooks, bigger and thinner TVs, 3D TVs without the need for special glasses, and, "of course," connected TVs. "We're also seeing car companies becoming more like technology companies," with a huge number of smart cars and electric cars. He also expects "a lot of green, energy-efficient technology."

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