CES2016: Early Preview

It’s almost time. The International Consumer Electronics Show kicks off a week early for 2016, and we’ll have a team on the ground covering it next year! This is going to be a big change for CES, and the most likely change is that it’s probably going to be smaller.

whaaaaaa?

That’s right, smaller. After record attendance last year, the CES folks really tightened up the attendance requirements. Unlike past years where pretty much any clown with a handmade business card could get in (trust me, I was that clown) this year’s show is limited to people who can prove the are either in the consumer electronics industry or the media. As a result, attendance should be lower. Not only that, it costs money to attend the show this year unlike previous years. So, the pure lookie-loos ought to skip it. That’s good for those of us who are serious about attending, though.

It also means that the focus this year is going to be on getting business done. The sparkly South Hall has long been dominated by huge manufacturers and insanely expensive booths, but this year expect even fewer product announcements and even more deals being done. Back in the 1990s, CES was a freewheeling 24-hour-a-day party for overgrown teenage boys, but with consumer electronics now driving our economy and the biggest companies in the world involved, it’s more business than ever. We’ll still probably see giant TVs and big names, but there will be more and more focus on business. The big TVs are just to keep the media entertained.

I’m not expecting a massive slew of interesting product announcements. It took DISH most of the year to deliver on the promises they made at the 2015 CES, and this year I expect them to refine their product selection, not turn it upside down. My biggest hope is that they retire the now 4-year-old giant stuffed Hopper that was looking pretty ratty when I saw it last. As for DIRECTV, there is no official presence at the show once again, although there will be back-door meetings. AT&T will probably be somewhere, but don’t expect a giant booth.

Where earlier shows were about the Chinese taking over the world, this year it’s just about continuing dominance. It doesn’t matter what brand name you see on the front, chances are a lot of the parts were made in China under one of the bigger names like Huawei and TCL. It’s pretty amazing how good those folks have gotten at delivering “good enough” product, which honestly is what most people are looking for today.

I do know that our friends at Wilson, parent company of weBoost, zBoost and WilsonPro, have something very special up their sleeves and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to talk more about that in just a little while.

As for me, I’ll be cruising around getting a feeling for everything that’s out there, telling you what’s hot and what’s not in consumer electronics, and I can more or less guarantee I’ll be making fun of the same few companies who still don’t get it. Keep a lookout for my annual “they should have bought the smaller booth” article which has been a lot of fun in years past. In the next few days, I’ll be bringing you announcements and predictions… while the show may be smaller my coverage will be bigger than ever before!