CES 2019 - A View From The Road

Greetings from Las Vegas – well, actually the United Club in Denver as I write this blog during a five hour layover heading home from the 2019 CES.  Once again this year the airlines and hotels took out their knives and gouged deep into attendee’s wallets, raising prices to astronomical levels.  A non-stop, round trip from my home Newark Airport to Las Vegas was pricing out at over $1,500 in coach – months ago – when the planes were still empty.  I took a connecting flight back to drop the cost to at least a sub $1K level (for a round-trip flight that should maybe cost $400 at other times of the year.)    CES has just ended, and the concepts and experiences are still swirling around in my head.

It was by no means a “great” conference this year.  In terms of what I gained from the experience it was closer to a five out of ten.  This comes on the heels of last year’s conference where a significant transition began from a product showcase to a concept showcase.  I’m still glad I was there and wouldn’t hesitate going again, but I’d definitely recommend some sort of shift in the way the conference is planned in the future.  When a conference is exhibiting the best new devices, showing up and seeing them for yourself is critical.  When the things being exhibited are ideas – Like 5G connections, artificial intelligence (AI), IoT security, etc. – then it makes much less sense to have huge booths and private suites that one has to spend megabucks to travel to just so people can talk to you about those concepts.  That problem grew this year, with not just behemoth booths from automobile (and other) companies to show off the sensors and touch-panels in their systems, but it even smaller firms thinking concept only discussions are OK.  As an example, I made an appointment with a PR representative to interview a firm on camera about their home IoT security solution which I was assured would finally not be the disappointment that those before it turned out to be.  When I arrived, It was explained to me that the solution wasn’t ready yet, wouldn’t be available to consumers (only telcos) and isn’t really 100% reliable.  So now I have to travel across the country and fight the crowds (and the plainly insane elevators in the Venetian) to get to this firm’s far flung suite just so they can talk to me about what may be coming, but isn’t ready yet?  I hope the CTA will find some filtering mechanism or alternate on-line forum in the future to avoid having all these concepts taking time and space just to make the conference “bigger.”

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