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CES: Not all about tech these days

A Be A HeadCase rep shows a potential customer the iPhone 'Bottle Opener Phone Case' at the International Consumer Electronics Show on January 10, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Consumer Electronics Show has been around since 1967 and it’s traditionally been the place where manufacturers introduce their latest tech wizardry.

The video cassette recorder was unveiled there in the 1970s and and Microsoft revealed its gaming console X-Box in 2001. But Sarah Rotman-Epps, a tech analyst at Forrester Research, says don’t expect to see any big tech news this year.

“In the past companies like Microsoft, HP, Dell have had a huge CES presence,” Rotman-Epps says. “Those companies have been cutting back year after year. Microsoft is gone.”

Rotman-Epps says with 3,000 exhibitors sprawled across nearly two million square feet, it’s hard for tech companies to keep the spotlight at CES. So more and more, big tech companies are making big product announcements at private press events like the ones pioneered by Apple.

Rotman-Epps says there’s still tons of small guys with innovative gadgets on display, but many big players attending these days are non-tech companies who believe technology is crucial to their future.  

“For example, in the media industry, News Corp,” Rotman-Epps says. “Companies in consumer-package goods like Loreal” will be there too.

She says they don’t necessarily have booths set up but their top level executives are roaming the floor scoping out new trends.

Jim Buczkowski, a director in Research and Innovation at the Ford Motor Company, said CES is also a great place for companies to network.

“CES is an opportunity to make those contacts to find the technology partners that could be key in helping us innovate,” Buczkowski says.

And in Ford’s case, the carmaker has also been increasing its exhibit space to show the world its on top of consumer technology trends.

“CES is every bit as important to us as an auto show,” said Buczkowski.

But with less talk about horsepower and more about voice activated apps.

About the author

Queena Kim covers technology for Marketplace. She lives in the Bay Area.

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