Consumer Electronics Show

At the start of January I went to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. It is quite unlike any trade-show I’ve ever been to before. It fills all the halls of the Las Vegas convention center plus a hotel or two. There were 130,000 people attending. For comparison, AT&T park has a capacity of 41,000 so it is about 3 times as large. And if you think the traffic is bad after a ball-game you can try 2 hour waits for taxis and even 30 minute waits for the monorail (it runs every 5 minutes or so but it takes 4 or 5 of them before you get to the front of the line).

DAC is the tradeshow I know best. I’ve been to every one since 1984, the year DAC got big and Albuquerque was still small. I’ll probably still be going when DAC is small again. Anyway, unlike DAC, you can’t just wander around hoping to run across the interesting stuff. There are so many booths you can’t hope to see more than about 20% of them even in a couple of days. You have to decide which people you want to see and fight your ways through the mêlée to their booths.

One company, actually an $800M semiconductor company, we met with simply didn’t bother to have a booth. They just rented a suite in one of the nearby hotels and had all their meetings there. It was actually much easier to find them than if they had had a booth. But we were ravenous during the meeting. Unless you have 45 minutes to stand in line you aren’t getting any lunch. We tried to crash an NXP special event with a buffet but the security guard got to us first.

In EDA, many people wonder about the future of tradeshows. DAC seemed fine this year but it was on home turf. It will be interesting to see how it does in Anneheim this year where most visitors have to get on a plane rather than just get into their car. But CES seems to have had more visitors than they predicted. But for really big tradeshows the end can come fast if the biggest guys pull out. Remember Comdex, which was also one of the largest tradeshows anywhere with 200,000 attendees. Hotel rooms went for several thousand dollarsd per night. Comdex died in 2003, ironically partly because the center of gravity for computers had moved so far from being in the IT departments of corporations to consumers, and CES became the must-attend show.

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