Despite the downturn in the economy, the Consumer Electronics Association says pre-registration is "very strong" for the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which will take place in Las Vegas, Jan. 8-11. There will be more than 2,700 exhibitors covering 1.7 million square feet of show floor, which represents a 7 to 8 percent decrease over last year’s all-time high of 1.85 million.

Digital entertainment will be front and center with Sony Pictures Television taping 11 episodes of "Celebrity Jeopardy!" on the show floor and unveiling a new studio to celebrate the program’s 25th anniversary.

"(The CES) itself doesn’t have a theme, but digital entertainment and content is something that continues to evolve at (the show)," said Karen Chupka, CEA senior vice president, events and conferences. "Content and devices are tied together. (Companies) are trying to find new ways of getting content to consumers (and) working out partnerships to make content available," she added.

Last year, mobility and HD video emerged as strong CES themes. Click here and here for more on each.

With so much floor space and so many exhibitors, speakers, and products to see (more than 20,000), the show will be segmented into 20 TechZones, each housing 10 to 20 companies, and broader CE Spotlights.

"(For example,) the Spotlight area called Sustainable Planet, focuses on green technologies … and products marketed to emerging countries," Chupka said. It essentially encompasses two TechZones under one umbrella.
Industry segments For the first time this year, there will be a Cable Conference at CES. Sessions will address the tie between the cable and consumer electronics industries, broadband expansion, infrastructure investment, next generation interactivity, and video across platforms, for example. For more on video and the complex cable/CE relationship generally, click here.

Chupka said the wireless industry also will have an "unprecedented" presence at the CES this year, with some companies making a return after being absent from the show for a while. "Most of the major players" in digital imaging and photography will be present, and, representing another sector, one of the keynote speakers is Alan Mulally, president and CEO of the Ford Motor Co.

"Over the past four or five years, our industries (consumer electronics and automotive) have had to work closely together," Chupka said. "Platforms for cars are (designed) so far in advance that when they come to market, they might not be able to integrate (the newest) products."

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, will offer a "pre-show" keynote on Wednesday evening (Jan. 7). Howard Stringer, chairman and CEO, Sony Corp., will give the Opening Keynote on day one of the conference, and Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers will join Intel Chairman Craig Barrett in keynoting the Technology and Emerging Countries Program.

"We ask them to present a vision of the future … a lot of them (keynote speakers) use the platform to announce new partnerships or business ventures. We do ask them to put a forward focus on their presentations," Chupka said.

– Monta Monaco Hernon

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