CES: Attendance drops 22 percent

Last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas drew an estimated 110,000 attendees, down 22 percent from 2008's total.

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Last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas drew an estimated 110,000 attendees, down 22 percent from 2008's total of 141,150.

But a hundred thousand, give or take a few thousand, may be the right number for this trade show. According to a news release from the Consumer Electronics Associations, which runs the event, future attendance may be limited to 2009 levels.

"Our board concluded that it is essential to have the right people attend CES. Board members reported getting more business done this year than at any prior show," said CEA president and chief executive Gary Shapiro in the release. One step to limit CES attendance this year included a new $100 pre-registration fee implemented on 1 November, the release stated.

The lower body count won't come as a surprise to CES regulars, some of whom commented on the mellower, more pleasant experience, which included smaller crowds, and shorter cab and monorail lines. And despite the disappointing turnout, the show proved to be more exciting that this year's Macworld, others reported.

CES brought the unveiling of cool new gear like the Palm Pre smart phone, Internet-connected HDTVs, and in-car satellite TV service. And Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer used the show to drum up interest in the new Windows 7 beta.

It's unclear whether CES organisers are simply trying to put a happy face on a disappointing turnout, or whether a smaller, more manageable show is really their ultimate goal. We may have to wait a year to find out.

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