The 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show was not only big on news, but big on participation, too. Among the announcements were Verizon's LTE device rollout and Intel's newest chips.
Attendance at the Jan. 6-8 trade show in Las Vegas, sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Association, was estimated at 140,000 people, up from 126,641 last year. Before that, participation had dropped off because of the economic crisis, with just 113,085 in 2009. Official numbers for 2011 will be released by the association in the spring.
The CEA said 30,000 attendees in 80 delegations from other countries came to Las Vegas this year.
"[CES] was a phenomenal worldwide event that spanned global industries, including technology, automotive and entertainment markets," said Gary Shapiro, the association's president and CEO. "This global technology gathering featured more innovation, more news, more social-media buzz, and more international attendance than any other show in CES history."
A Who's Who
Shapiro cited the participation of Ford Motors CEO Alan Mulally, who unveiled the company's first electric , the Ford Focus Electric, as well as keynotes by Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, Verizon Communications' Ivan Seidenberg, Audi's Rupert Stadler, Samsung's Boo-Keun Yoon, Cisco Systems' John Chambers, Xerox's Ursula Burns, and General Electric's Jeffrey Immelt.
For the first time, CES featured a new forum, Entertainment Matters, to explore the increasing relationship between technology and media content. It featured a panel with representatives from Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Akamai Technologies, Interpublic Group, and WPP.
In all, there were 250 sessions featuring 900 speakers, with 2,700 companies participating.
"Despite lingering economic malaise, the IT industry is either feeling pretty good about its prospects or is doing a great job of pretending to do so," said Charles King, principal analyst of Pund-IT. "The growth in CES attendees from across the globe offers insight into the reason for this: Today, IT is essentially a worldwide market and, while economic hardships and unemployment are certainly still problematic, they tend to be regionally focused."
King added that while it's clear that recession still afflicts many countries and regions of the world, "others are doing just fine and want new IT toys. That, in turn, provides technology vendors a good deal of room for optimism in 2011."
While there was much coverage of 3-D TVs and the onslaught of tablets, King noted some lesser-noted highlights, including Intel's launch of second-generation Core processors that boost compute performance more than 60 percent, the increasing convergence of media and computing, and market-specific consumer PCs such as Hewlett-Packard's DreamScreen, a touchscreen computer developed for India that bundles education software as well as music and video content.
"This product and many others at CES suggest that vendors understand and are depending on the fact that consumer IT and sales have truly gone global," he said.
Michael Gartenberg of Gartner Research said the increasing foreign presence shows "CES is the center for consumer tech in the U.S, and no doubt many companies overseas are looking to crack this market."