The International Consumer Electronics Show, the largest trade show in the US, opens this week in Las Vegas with a full slate of giant televisions and inventive gadgets, despite the pall of a recession hanging over the industry.
The economic downturn will temper the normally dizzying extravaganza, and some attendees are wondering if the whole technology trade show business is past its peak.
“I’m talking to the companies who are sending people, and they’re sending two instead of 10,” said Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey. “It’s going to be a shadow of itself.” Last year, 1,40,000 people went to the show, and there were 2,700 exhibitors. The Consumer Electronics Association, which is hosting, expects the same number of exhibitors this year for the 42nd annual show, but on a slightly smaller floor space: 1.7 million square feet.
Jason Oxman, senior vice president of industry affairs at CEA, said several companies have asked to buy meeting-room space, rather than booths on the showroom floor. They are more focused on meeting customers and doing business than putting on large displays, he said.