Inside CES

Consumer Electronics Show kicks off in Las Vegas

John Moe Jan 9, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: The world’s largest consumer electronics exhibition is getting underway today in Las Vegas. But the buzz around this year’s show isn’t about the new product we’ll all be using in the future. It’s about the fact that the show has lost some of its influence.

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, and he joins us now from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to explain. John, good morning.

John Moe: Hi Jeremy.

Hobson: So, the Consumer Electronics Show is changing this year — what’s going on?

Moe: This is the last year that Microsoft is going to be a part of the show. They’ve been kind of a big staple of the conference for many years; they’ve debuted a lot of products here. But they say that after this year, they’re kind of bowing out and they’re playing down expectations for Steve Ballmer’s big keynote address tonight.

And it’s kind of continuing a trend — Apple doesn’t really display anything here; Amazon doesn’t debut anything here. And so the big heavy-hitters are kind of fading away a little bit.

Hobson: Are the smaller companies that are at the Consumer Electronics Show — are they debuting some interesting stuff?

Moe: Oh yeah, there’s a lot going on here. There’s tons of companies debuting all sorts of things. You know, what you’re seeing instead of those big fancy products is you’re seeing fewer products that can do more things. So there’s more of an emphasis on what are called “ultrabooks” — that’s a term coined by Intel.

And those are computers meant to compete with the MacBook Air — extremely lightweight computers. You’re seeing TVs that act more like computers; an emphasis on apps, that kind of thing. So you’re maybe not seeing the videos cameras that you used to see, or the specific products, but you’re seeing more versatile products that they’re hoping will be easier to use and can do more things.

Hobson: And it’s not just these multimedia devices that are being shown at the Consumer Electronics Show, John. What else have you seen that’s been pretty interesting?

Moe: Well there’s all sorts of things going on. Just pick any geometrical shape, and there’s probably an iPod docking station that comes in that shape.

Probably the most intriguing thing I’ve seen so far was from the House of Marley, which is the estate of Bob Marley. And they’re debuting a bunch of products like headphones that are made from what they say are sustainable materials like aluminum and naturally, hemp.

And I think they stand out not only because you see a big picture of Bob Marley at their booth, but because it’s a color other than black, silver or white — which almost every other product you see here is. And so it’s getting a lot of attention because it’s just sort of breaking the mold of what’s out there.

Hobson: Marketplace Tech Report host John Moe, joining us from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. John, thanks so much.

Moe: Thanks Jeremy.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.