The world’s largest collection of tech and electronics companies will hit Las Vegas next week, along with more than 100,000 people who will come to look at the next generation of consumer electronics. It is time for CES, the industry’s greatest show on earth. The show, ironically, is as much a place where new inventions come to die as one where they begin to thrive.
The event occurs at the Las Vegas Convention and World Trade Center, a set of buildings the size of a half a dozen aircraft carriers. The jungle of exhibitors has reached above 3,000 and ranges from car companies to chip makers. The very largest consumer electronics companies will debut several products. Some of them are prototypes that will never be built. Others are products that are supposed to dominate their markets for years.
The fact of the matter is that the list of products that are intended to be wildly successful it too long to offer a realistic picture of the future. Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) will, for example, launch its new smartphone. Somehow the Japanese company believes that if it shows the handset then it will damage sales of industry leaders, particularly Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Samsung.
Sony is one of dozens of large companies that will flog new gadgets to analysts and reporters in the hope that they will give these gadgets positive coverage. For hundreds of smaller companies, CES may be their one and only chance to sell the industry and consumers on their inventions. For every small company that presents products that eventually will make them bigger firms, there are dozens that will leave the show empty-handed, and with the cash balances in their bank accounts lowered significantly by the costs to prepare for CES and to go.
What better place than Las Vegas to take odds on which companies and products will fail and which will do well?
Douglas A. McIntyre