In the words of Woody Allen from the legendary film Annie Hall, “a relationship is like a shark. It has to constantly move forward … or it dies.”
The same can be said about the largest trade show in the world, the International CES, January 6-9 in Las Vegas. Forty-eight years since its founding in 1967, the Consumer Electronics Show is forever evolving, transforming and reinventing itself.
In serving an industry that moves at what we now call “Internet speed,” the singular consistent concept is change; and to maintain a pace necessary to accommodate the eddies and currents of the world’s most innovative industry, so too must CES constantly move forward … if it wishes to stay alive … and continue to thrive.
Recent years have produced noticeable shifts in industry trends. Some of the world’s largest players, Apple for example, no longer exhibit here. Yet by openly and aggressively attracting developing companies, CES 2015 is poised to emerge as the largest event in history. When the computer gaming genre abandoned CES for the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) several years back, CES responded by creating a specially-focused marketplace for gaming. And as the graying of America created a whole new market segment of seniors who embrace technology, the show recently introduced its Silver Summit tech zone, highlighting products, concepts and applications that appeal to the AARP Generation.
So there was little surprise when International CES introduced an entirely new concept for 2015 by officially dividing the show into three separate and distinct “venues” which they call “Tech East,” “Tech West” and “the C-Space at Aria.”
Tech East is what was traditionally known at the old International CES – essentially the Westgate Hotel (formerly the Las Vegas Hilton), the Las Vegas Convention Center and the tented parking areas between the Halls. Tech West is where you will still find the major electronic giants – Samsung, Sony, Monster, Qualcomm, Panasonic, LG and others – as well as technology zones (now formally referred to as marketplaces) which cover cybersecurity, digital imaging, gaming, iproducts, automotive technology, streaming content and audio.
Tech West, which will take place in the Venetian, Palazzo and Sands Expo Center, roughly a mile away from the Convention Center, was designed specifically to attract buyers, distributors, the media, industry analysts and key decision makers. Featuring the innovative power behind tomorrow’s industry, Tech West encompasses revolutions in fitness and health, the “Internet of things,” sensors and other high-growth technologies that change the way we live, work and play. Tech West also serves as home to Eureka Park, the fastest growing of the CES Marketplaces that serves as both a showcase and as a CES-centric incubator for startups and emerging enterprises. Essentially doubling in size every year since it started in 2011, Eureka Park is truly representative of the show’s evolution throughout the years.
“Eureka Park is one of my favorite places at CES,” says CEA’s spokesperson and Digital Answerman Jim Barry. “We started with 50 exhibitors four years ago and this time around we will have over 400. Most are one or two people – a guy and a gal or a husband and wife – all with an idea on how to build a better electronic mousetrap. The big players will still be there, meeting with buyers, distributors and the media; but the startups are looking for revenues, investors and venture capital … that’s a whole different story and it’s really the essence of what the new CES is all about.”
Also new for 2015 is the C Space at ARIA, a formal CES destination for creative communicators, brand marketers, advertising agencies, digital publishers and social networks. Designed to tell the story of how content, creativity, technology, brand marketing, influencers and the consumer converge, C Space will feature some of the largest names in media and producing, in the process, a global gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies.
These changes, Barry says, are critical to the ongoing success of CES as it continues to evolve, change and grow. At the heart of the matter however, is the core purpose of CES.
“It has always been, it is, and it will continue to be where innovation goes to market,” he says.
By Steve Winter, president of Brotman|Winter|Fried, a Sage Communications Company