Retailers show ‘cautious optimism’ at CES

Marketplace Staff Jan 7, 2011

Retailers show ‘cautious optimism’ at CES

Marketplace Staff Jan 7, 2011


JEREMY HOBSON: To Las Vegas now where the high tech world is gathered for the Consumer Electronics Show. So far it’s been all about tablet computers. Today, techies are expecting some new devices that will use Verizon’s 4G network, the fastest data network in the country.

Marketplace’s Silicon Valley bureau chief Steve Henn is at the Consumer Electronics Show — or CES — and he joins us now. Good morning.

STEVE HENN: Good morning.

HOBSON: So tell us what’s going on there at CES this year Steve. What are you seeing?

HENN: Well you know there are lots of gadgets which we can talk about in a second. But I’m also seeing that there’s a bit of cautious optimism here about the consumer economy. There are more exhibitors this year, they’re using a lot more floor space than they did last year, the booths are taller. You know, I talked to Paul Lynch, who’s at Expo Networks and he’s cautiously optimistic. And there are lots of guys like this.

PAUL LYNCH: Well, one of the things was the economy was a little better and we have newer products. This particular product’s actually making money. So we wanted to show it to more people, and this is a great place to show it to a lot of people fast.

So Expo Networks makes voice over IP phones that they sell to small businesses. They saw business pick up about eight months ago and then decided to spend the money to come to the show.

HOBSON: Alright, well tell us about the gadgets Steve. That’s what everybody wants to hear about. What are you seeing this year?

HENN: Everyone’s talked about the tablets and the 3D television sets and honestly, I haven’t been blown away. The stuff I’ve really have like have been sort of the little things around the edges. There’s a baby monitor here that taps directly into your iPhone. And it doesn’t just measure the sound in the room, it takes pictures of your baby, it can sense the temperature, and then you can coo to your baby over the phone.

HOBSON: Just what we need.

HENN: Right. And you know for the older crowd there’s some bifocals that just have one lens, but the prescription changes with the tilt of your head, so if you look down, it’s for reading classes, if you look up it’s distance vision. So, that trend of like little gadgets that you don’t really think of as computers, but are somehow wired, it’s cool.

HOBSON: Alright Steve, you cover Silicon Valley all the time for us, the tech sector is one of the big, booming parts of the economy right now. Tell us why this show matters in the world of the tech economy.

HENN: This is where everyone places their bets, right? So the people who make gadgets need to impress the buyers and the buyers need to decide what’s going to sell next Christmas.

HOBSON: Marketplace’s Steve Henn in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show.Thanks so much.

HENN: Sure thing.

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