According to figures released by the Consumer Technology Association, 45, 000 people attended the 2022 CES show in Las Vegas Nevada.
Does this look like a show with 45,000 people?
I mean, compare this shot to a similar one I took in 2020:
Why I don’t believe a word of it
OK so I didn’t go the CES show this year. We did have staff on site, but I wasn’t one of them. I have no evidence, I’ve done no hard-core research. But I’ve been the one attending the show pretty much every year since 2006. I like to think I have a feeling about how well it’s doing.
I don’t believe them for two reasons. The first is that it just doesn’t look likely. I had originally forecast “under 45,000 people” in my preview article. But the photos I saw coming out of Las Vegas, not just the ones I published but all of them, don’t show anything close to that number. If I had to guess, I’d say attendance on the show floor was under 20,000.
The second reason is that I haven’t believed them all along. From what I’ve seen with my own eyes, show attendance has been down every year since about 2016. The 2020 show had areas where it felt like a ghost town (by 2020 standards, not by today’s pandemic standards) and yet the CTA said was the best-attended show ever, with 170,000+ people in attendance.
What does “attend” mean?
I think if you’re going to believe that 45,000 number, you have to question what “attend” means. They claim that it’s an “in-person” number in their press release. They never said that everyone actually showed up on the show floor. You would think, by the way, that given all the security at the show, the actual number would be easy to verify. I mean, you had to show a lot of proof just to get your badge, so it would be pretty easy to track those numbers. It would be admittedly a bit harder to know how many individuals actually set foot in the exhibit halls.
But I can’t help thinking that “attend” by their standards may include people who registered and didn’t show up, people who never went to the show floor, and people who went to a single keynote. It could include food vendors and taxi drivers who were outside. That could account for some of the inflated numbers.
No need to call the fraud squad
I’m not saying this is some sort of conspiracy or anything. I’m not saying it’s something that has to be investigated. I’ve said in some of my other articles that this year’s CES was far better than last year’s, and that I expect next year’s to be top notch. Considering the lessons we’ve all learned, I think it will be a very welcome return to the excitement of previous shows.
Let’s start, though, by saying that even if 20,000 actual people actually set foot on the show floor, that’s pretty good! Considering that many shows have shut down again, possibly never to return, seeing 20,000 die-hards participating is great. I also think CTA should be talking about the people who attended virtually and had a great experience. I didn’t blog about it but I went to some keynotes and some booth experiences virtually. I was very impressed by the improvement over last years. Let’s talk about that, because the people who made it happen despite the odds. It’s worth telling that story.
Next year, let’s hope to see a return to those 100k+ crowds, and let’s also acknowledge the hard work it took to get back there.