CES no longer a leading indicator

Posted: 01.20.15

Now what do we do?

We thought we had really stumbled onto something when we recognized a correlation between the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) and the attendance at CES: when CES attendance fell, so did the DJIA. That gauge worked up until 2013 and then failed in 2014 and again in 2015. Damn. 

CES NO longer a leading indicator.

All things considered, I’d much rather the DJIA went up faster than the attendance at CES. I think CES is too crazy big and unmanageable now. I think it should be broken up into three or four shows: one for cars, one for TVs and hi-fi as was the original concept, one for appliances, and one for “Stuff.’ It may be efficient and profitable for CEA to jam all those things together and block tiny Las Vegas streets with busses, trucks, taxis, and cars, and overwhelm the already stressed restaurant staffs, but it’s not much fun for the attendees who can’t get anywhere, get a table, get service, or if you’re late to the party, get a room or flight. And then there’s the world-infamous TSA in LV, who make standing in line seem like a new activity from Guantanamo.

I’m not alone in this feeling. A friend of mine from the U.K. commented on CES. Imagine, he said, the largest exhibition hall you’ve ever been in. There are five of them. Plus, all the big hotels are also being used—their convention spaces and meeting rooms in suites. There are 180,000 visitors (or thereabouts).

It’s Vegas, so everywhere is full of gambling. They still allow smoking in buildings so the entire place smells like an ashtray and is lit like a dingy dive (to encourage gambling). Your hotel room won’t have a coffee maker (to encourage you to leave the room, to encourage gambling). You literally end up smelling by the end of the day, and in any case, you feel like washing the place off you. You’re in the desert, so the atmosphere is arid—your skin starts peeling off by the end of the second day. You will have a lunch meeting where a man will go past paddling a gondola. If you meet someone for a drink in the evening, your cocktail waitress may have forgotten to put all of her clothes on. The transport system tries, but it simply can’t cope with the numbers. It takes you 45 minutes to get anywhere between meetings. The scale is overwhelming. The noise is overwhelming. At the end of the week you are so grateful to leave …

My pal Andy has a different POV. Was it crowded? Yes. Why? Jeez, everyone who is anyone in the industry was there. Sure, at the end of each day your feet would be killing you, but you just soak them for 3 or 4 hours in the toilet and then scrape off the blisters/callouses and grease them up for the next day. Dinner? Hey we had a very nice dinner every evening, and there are a number of the hotel restaurants that were all good. True, the strip restaurants used to be simply expensive and horrible, but now they’re just expensive; but there’s plenty of time to talk.

I suppose if you smell at the beginning of the day it will kind of hang on until the end, but you can always hang one of those pine deodorizers around your neck with your name badge and folks probably won’t notice—they might even thank you! Is it dry? It’s the desert! What did you expect, a snowstorm? Want to see new wearables? There. Drones? There. Phones? There. TVs? There. Computers? There. Tablets? There. VR systems? There. Bots? There. Smart stuff? There. Cars? There. Want to get somewhere “fairly” quickly? Walk the 6 or 8 blocks ... good exercise. Smart men and women get a couple of pair of really ugly, really comfortable shoes and put gel insoles in them so they can handle the hiking. They don’t try to see “the show” because