Back in January, the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show broke attendance records, with 156,153 people coming to see what’s hot in tech. And this year, the show is likely to be just as big.
The show is on track to match last year’s attendance and will set a new record in terms of square footage on the show floor, Consumer Electronics Association chief executive Gary Shapiro told VentureBeat. The annual CES event in Las Vegas is the world’s largest tech show. Shapiro said this year’s show, which runs January 8-11, will cover more than 1.85 million square feet. That says a lot about the health of the $1 trillion electronics industry.
“We’re feeling terrific,” he said. “Every day brings more good news. We are bigger than last year, in terms of our footprint. That’s how we measure the size of the show in the trade-show world. It can’t get a lot bigger because we’re space-constrained for this year and next year in the terms of our contracts and the space available in Las Vegas. But we’re setting a new record. We’re far enough above our record last year that we’re comfortable saying it’s broken.”
The number of exhibitors will likely be around 3,319, or close to the same number as last year. Shapiro isn’t making exact projections.
Shapiro’s job is to make sure that you feel like you’re left out if all of your tech friends are going to Las Vegas and you’re not. But he contends that CES doesn’t pack in locals and tourists like sardines. The screening measures are tough, especially for anyone attending from Nevada and Southern California. You really do have to be an industry professional to get in.
And Shapiro said the show is going to be packed even without Microsoft, which has traditionally given the opening keynote on the night before the event starts. This year, the opening keynote will be by Paul Jacobs, chief executive of mobile chip maker Qualcomm. That change is symbolic, as Microsoft represented the PC industry, while Qualcomm generates billions on the strength of smartphone and tablet chip sales. Shapiro said the keynote slot was “intensely sought after.”
But Shapiro believes there’s another reason for the show’s popularity.
“It’s the world’s largest annual innovation event, and innovation is a focus of a lot of different companies,” he said. “In Washington, it’s bipartisan. Everyone’s talking about it. Internationally, every country wants to be an innovative country, so they come. We’re getting diverse industries coming. We know what areas we’re growing in. We’re growing in the automobile area. We have seven of the 10 largest car companies exhibiting. The thing I’m really excited about is the startup area. We did a deal last year for Eureka Park and we thought we’d have 30 companies. We had 100, and this year we have 140.”
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Another big draw will be anything connected to Apple. Apple employees are coming, but Apple traditionally doesn’t exhibit or speak at CES. But the iLounge section devoted to Apple-related products built by other companies is now going to have 440 companies across 120,000 square feet.