2019 CES: They probably wished they’d gotten the smaller booth

“See you next year, Casio!”

Those were the final words of my “smaller booth” article last year.  Well, I guess Casio got the better of me, since they didn’t exhibit on the show floor. Instead, a company called Jasco occupied the same space, and as you can see from the above photo, they didn’t do any better.

My favorite article of the year?

I love picking on these vendors for their shortsightedness and hubris. Think I’m kidding? Check out the 20182017, 2016, 2015, and 2014, versions of this article. I love doing it! And I love picking on Casio and I am actually a little sad that I can’t do it this year. However, with noticeably smaller attendance at the show, there are plenty of candidates for the title of “biggest overspender.”

By the way, I will point out that I took these pictures in the middle of the day. These aren’t just photos taken before opening or anything. This is how busy these people were at the height of the show.

GHi

General electronics manufacturer GHi really brought it this year. Unfortunately it seems people were put off by the capitalization error in their name and stayed away in droves.

Intel

Intel is one of the premier sponsors of CES, with a prime spot at the corner of the central and south halls. It’s usually a massive traffic jam. This year it was empty enough that I could have a meeting in the booth with old friends and we had plenty of room to spread out.

Polaroid

Yes, Polaroid is still a thing. But barely, if you take a look at their booth. It was pleasant to visit and the carpet was nice and springy. However, it wasn’t anywhere near busy.

Sublue?

The logo was almost impossible to make out. The products were generic. The wood floor was fake. And that’s about all you can say about this company. Better luck next time.

Flic

Flic looks to put a smart home button anywhere in your house. Of course, you push a button, you don’t flick it; unfortunately that distinction wasn’t lost on the tens of thousands of people who didn’t go into this booth.

What to make of all this emptiness

The folks at CES will tell you that they estimate about 195,000 people came to the show this year. That’s a meaty jump from last year when they estimated 160,000 I think. I didn’t believe them last year either, to be honest. The claim of 195,000 is off by about half if you ask me. The halls weren’t empty and neither were the roads. However, this show was unquestionably smaller. Traffic was a lot lighter and it was just plain easier to get around. The show is still big — too big — but it’s getting to more of a manageable size. If next year shows a drop in attendance like this year, it ought to be downright pleasant.

Why are people staying away? CES management made a rule change a few years ago that made it harder to get free tickets. That’s one thing. Probably more importantly, a lot of these midsize companies can get more press coverage by having their own event than by having a booth here. Every year I see more and more of the deals being made off the show floor, too. So it’s possible more people are here but they’re just staying in their hotel rooms.