Correction to This Article
In earlier versions of this article, a photo caption misspelled Toshiba, the maker of the tablet computer shown in the photograph. This version has been corrected.

'Mommy tech' gets its own home at gadget show as market expands

A Toshiba Tablet attracts attention from an attendee at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
A Toshiba Tablet attracts attention from an attendee at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. (David Becker)

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 11, 2011

LAS VEGAS - The world's biggest tech show primarily focuses on gearheads and businessmen, but this year it put at least one spotlight on another market that's proving just as eager for the latest gizmos: moms.

The Consumer Electronics Show hosted a "Mommy Tech" section with gadgets geared for fitness, safety and ways to better organize the household. It was a recognition of research showing that moms spend half of a family's budget on consumer electronics, creating an estimated $822 million market that is expected to increase as women seek more ways to stay in touch with family and get more organized while on the go.

"Online moms are a particularly important consumer segment, as they are both active on social media sites and possess substantial buying power and influence," said Ben Arnold, a Consumer Electronics Association research analyst.

According to the association, mothers are careful researchers who often buy off online reviews and make purchasing decisions through suggestions on social-networking sites.

CES, which wrapped up Sunday and drew more than 140,000 attendees, still catered to its traditional audience of tech geeks and business executives, with much floor space dedicated to 3-D televisions and software for big computer servers.

And some of the show's attempts to appeal to families seemed a stretch: Will a mom really want to tweet from her refrigerator when she grabs a yogurt?

But in and beyond the designated mom zone, there was much to appeal to frenetic moms in search of ways to help ease the breakfast and carpool rush, entertain the family and keep it safe and healthy.

"This was the first year where CES wasn't a scavenger hunt for things related to moms," said Monica Vila, who writes a blog, the Online Mom (theonlinemom.com). "There were so many useful things for the family with real, practical implications."

Indeed, the biggest theme at CES was how wireless Internet connections will change business and the lives of consumers.

EBay wants moms to spend more money while on the go and showcased the free mobile app RedLaser, which enables smartphone users to snap a photo of a bar code and then either buy the product on the auction site or compare how much it costs at local retailers.

"For a lot of parents, getting the chores done can't wait until they are at home in front of a computer. They want to shop and research while waiting in line or at a red light," said Steve Yankovich, vice president for eBay Mobile.

Beyond shopping, manufacturers focused on family safety.


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