CES 2018 Wrapup

take one more look at the CES show for this year. If you’re interested, you’ve probably read a lot of articles including mine. Let’s take one more look back.

Pretty sure they are lying about attendance.
Reports called this the biggest show yet at 150,000 people. I just didn’t see it. I think the real peak was about two years ago back when they would let pretty much anyone in. (Now, you have to legitimately have some industry affiliation and pay to attend.) I had no problem parking this year, there were plenty of areas of the show that seemed empty, and even taxis and other ridesharing services only required a 10-15 minute wait as opposed to 45 minutes or more in the past. You could say this was due to better organization, but I really think there weren’t that many people. A lot of the out-of-the-way hotels were half-empty too.

There was more exhibit space, sort of.
This year, the Chinese contract manufacturers moved to their own space just south of South Hall. This meant that Westgate Hotel, the former Las Vegas Hilton, was home to the largely empty “smart cities” exhibits and Venetian was filled with CES offices and the innovation awards. So technically there was more exhibit space but really, there wasn’t, unless you count the places you really didn’t want to visit because it took longer to get there than it took to walk the floor.

Oh dear, what happened to…
The Sands hall, while it did have some neato and far-out ideas, was largely home to a sad mix of technologies that CES organizers thought were going to happen and didn’t. Things like wearables and STEM educational kits (which are definitely a thing but not at this show) lurked over in this out-of-the-way location which also housed “themed” areas dedicated to different countries. If you wanted to make sure that you sourced all your stuff from Sweden, this was the place for you.

The only exception here was the 3D printing people, who gathered together in a far corner of North Hall hoping someone would talk to them. We all had such high hopes for 3D printing, but it never developed past the point of being a curiosity.

Hey Google, enough already.
Google was fricken’ everywhere. I mean everywhere. The buzzwords of the show were “Works with Google Assistant.” They crushed HomeKit and did a good job of stomping all over Alexa. If there was a “smart” device, chances are Google paid them to put that Google Assistant badge somewhere on the booth. Plus Google had advertising on the monorail cars, many of the digital signs on the strip, about half a dozen giveaway locations where you could get anything from a t-shirt to a Pixel phone if you waited 2 hours in line. (No I’m not kidding.) They had a massive “Google Experience” booth outside across from the main halls of the convention center. Google obviously wanted to come in and dominate this show and they did. It got past the point of being obnoxious, really fast.

At the end of the day…
…this was a show that really reflected the difference between big business and small business, with very little in between. In the flashy Central Hall, you had incredibly massive booths which were clearly set up for the sole purpose of getting media attention. In the South Hall and South Plaza, you had small, hungry manufacturers desperate to get someone to give them a second look. And there wasn’t really a lot in the middle. I thought the automaker participation was half-hearted this year and I didn’t see a lot of standout new tech.

I would like to see CES maybe morph into two shows. They could have a media day where the big guys show their gigantic booths, followed by 1 day where people could gawk. Then, the big booths would shut down and the only people left would be the ones doing real business, and we could do it with less traffic.

That’s it for this year, see you next year for CES 2019!

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 9,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.