CES Attendance Plummets in 2009

Dennis Faas's picture

It seems the abnormally low number of exhibitors at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has been paralleled by a startling slide in attendance by Joe Techie. With the recession on and consumer spending down, overall attendance is even lower than first expected.

About a week ago, we reported that CES organizers expected the number of visitors for 2009 to be down slightly from last year's 141,000, perhaps between 130,000 and 135,000. That was evident the weekend prior to the event, when it was alarmingly easy to find a hotel room in Las Vegas, CES' annual host city. That's usually not the case.

Although official attendance numbers won't be available for another 90 days, it appears the number of CES visitors for 2009 wasn't just down slightly, but significantly -- only about 110,000 people actually made the rounds this year, a whopping 22 per cent fewer than last year's event. (Source: pcmag.com)

The news sent the Consumer Electronics Association, the group responsible for CES, into damage control. "The level of excitement on the CES show floor was at an all-time high with ground-breaking technologies such as the Palm Pre, Sony's flexible OLED display, 3D HDTV, Yahoo!'s TV Widget, LG's Watch Phone and a 1/3 inch thin energy efficient Plasma HDTV from Panasonic," proclaimed Karen Chupka, CEA events and conferences senior vice president. "Microsoft's Steve Ballmer announced Windows 7 Beta at his pre-CES keynote and the download response was so high, it overloaded their systems." (Source: vnunet.com)

Chupka's giddiness aside, these early numbers indicate that regardless of how exciting the show may have been, people just weren't as interested this year. If the 110,000 attendance total stands, as expected, it will be the lowest overall attendance record in years.

CEOs Show Their Faces, Desperation

Randy Fry, president of Fry's Electronics, was heard proclaiming, "This CES has had the most CEOs in attendance since I can remember and they are on the show floor. If you are not here at CES, you are not in this industry."

Clearly, CES was the site of some important announcements this year as the tech industry tries to justify its existence in a shrinking global economy. Unfortunately, it seems far fewer consumers are listening.

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