CES: A gadget gathering

More tech companies look for Vegas roll at CES

Electronics manufacturers are ready to roll the dice in Las Vegas again.

More than 330 new companies are expected to be among the 2,500 exhibitors showcasing their gadgets at the 2010 Intl. Consumer Electronics Show next month.

That’s good news for the Consumer Electronics Assn., which organizes the annual Las Vegas confab, considered the world’s largest consumer technology tradeshow.

The recession hit last year’s event, as heavyweights like Yahoo, Cisco, Seagate, Logitech, Belkin and Philips opted not to attend or held back on building pricey booths on the show floor in order to save money.

Overall, 2,700 exhibitors booked a presence at the 2009 show, and 113,085 people attended the event, less than the 130,000 that were hoped for.

The economy is still taking its toll on the show, however. While CEA can tout a slew of new exhibitors for 2010, the overall figure is down by 200; the event will be making use only of the Las Vegas Convention Center and not the additional Sands Convention Center that CES has also utilized in previous years.

While a down economy should hurt overall attendance levels, “Innovation is flourishing within the technology industry, and the 2010 CES is the only place to see it all,” said Gary Shapiro, prexy-chief exec of the CEA. He also boldly predicted that “more technology deals will be made during the four days of CES than anywhere else on Earth.”

This year, 3D is expected to receive a major plug, with manufacturers hoping to entice attendees with 3D TVs and Blu-ray players plus new glasses with which to watch movies and play videogames.The suc-cess of “Avatar” and a number of other 3D performers at the box office throughout the year should help put a spotlight on the new technologies.

Apple will be the focus of the iLounge, which will feature products and technologies for the iPod, iPhone and Mac. The iLounge was expected to take up 4,000 square feet when first planned, but demand from exhibitors led to an expansion to 25,000 square feet.

Despite the strong presence, Apple chairman Steve Jobs won’t be giving a keynote speech at the event. Instead, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will step up to the podium.

Ford Motor Co. president and CEO Alan Mulally will also give a keynote to tout the automaker’s voice-activated Sync system, powered by Microsoft, and how its vehicles can essentially serve as docking stations for mobile devices.

In-car technology will have a major presence at the tradeshow, as that area of the tech biz is expected to rev up more than $9.3 billion in sales this year.

More than 380 exhibitors will be on hand at the Las Vegas Convention Center to showcase the latest in-vehicle technology trends, including entertainment systems, GPS and broadband offerings.

In addition, CES will include 20 market-specific TechZones highlighting emerging markets, such as e-books; mobile TV for cell phones and other handheld devices; and netbooks.

More than 250 sessions will take place during the show, and 800 expert speakers will be featured, including new-media execs from CBS, Hulu, Nielsen, Sony Pictures Technologies, TiVo and YouTube.

Other keynoters include Intel president and CEO Paul Otellini and Qualcomm chairman-CEO Paul Jacobs. Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski will also attend.

NBC Universal is returning as the official broadcast partner of CES.

This year, NBC U used its 9,000-square-foot booth to produce live telecasts of CNBC’s “Power Lunch” and “Closing Bell” and MSNBC’s “Your Business.” CNET/CBS Interactive will also exhibit and serve as the official online media partner.

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