The International Consumer Electronics Show, the largest trade show in the U.S., opens this week in Las Vegas with a full slate of giant TVs and inventive gadgets, despite the pall of a recession hanging over the industry. The economic downturn will temper the normally dizzying extravaganza, and some attendees are wondering if the whole technology trade show business is past its peak. Last year, 140,000 people went to the show, and there were 2,700 exhibitors. The Consumer Electronics Association, which is hosting, expects the same number of exhibitors this year for the 42nd annual show, but on a slightly smaller floor space 1.7 million square feet, or about 29 football fields. That's down three football fields from last year. Jason Oxman, senior vice president of industry affairs at CEA, said several companies have asked to buy meeting room space, rather than booths on the showroom floor. They're more focused on meeting customers and doing business than putting on large displays, he said.
That fits with a cooler economic climate. The booths are chapels to conspicuous consumption where companies one up each other with bigger and badder gadgets displayed last year.
The 2009 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas on Saturday, Jan. 3, 2009. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)