More than 110,000 consumer electronics executives have come to Las Vegas to experience how digital products and technology are transforming the way consumers access information and communications, as well as listen to pioneers helping to shape one digital world at the 2004 International CES running through Sunday at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nev.
"It's amazing to see how seamlessly connected and portable consumer technology has become," said Karen Chupka, vice president of events and conferences for the Consumer Electronics Association, the producer of the International CES. "With nearly 2,500 exhibitors showcasing the latest and greatest consumer technology in the world, one steps foot into CES, entering a world of products and technology that is helping revolutionize the way we work and we play."
The International CES opened to a standing room only crowd as CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro delivered his annual State of the Industry Keynote Address. Shapiro announced that CEA is forecasting industry sales to top $101 billion in 2004. He then laid out several initiatives or "New Years Resolutions" he would like see accomplished to help move the industry to the next level of growth and success.
Shapiro's first goal is for the industry to simplify the way CE products operate for consumers. Shapiro said CEA is working hard to achieve this goal by helping educate consumers about technology. In particular, he announced the expansion of several retail training programs covering audio, mobile electronics, home networking and HDTV. Shapiro also announced the launch of a teen spokesman program aimed at educating the teen market on the latest developments in consumer technology.
Shapiro's second resolution focused on changing the way government thinks about consumer technology. "CE products help keep democracy as our right and our freedom," explained Shapiro. He listed home recording rights and product recycling as two central policy issues facing the industry.
Katherine Gornik, president of Thiel Audio and chairman of CEA, then described in detail the invaluable opportunities available for both large and small business that join CEA. Gornik touted the new CEA Small Business Council as an excellent way to foster growth and opportunity among small business. She also touted the opportunity to attend CEA events, network with peers in a non-competitive environment and becoming involved in CEA's many divisions, sub-divisions and special interest groups as ways to grow business.
Shapiro and Gornik's upbeat State of the Industry Address segued into the 2004 International CES Opening Keynote Address by Fumio Ohtsubo, president of Panasonic AVC Networks and senior managing director of Matsushita Electric. Ohtsubo described his vision for a truly connected world through his concept of Lifestream. "Products must help people maximize their time and save memories - all the while making them easy to use," explained Ohtsubo. "Our goal is to make products people want and the concept of Lifestream helps accomplish that." Lifestream enables consumers to enjoy whatever they want whenever they want. Ohtsubo stated this revolution will change life forever by simplifying products and their connectivity by allowing the access and editing of content and communication whenever and wherever consumers demand it.
Intel's Paul Otellini used his 2004 International CES Industry Insider presentation to trumpet Intel's initiatives to move "from inside the computer to inside the home and consumer electronics products". He announced several new products and Intel's newest corporate division, the Intel Consumer Electronics Group (CEG). Among the new products Otellini unveiled was the Entertainment PC (EPC), a new category of products that focuses not on the creation of content, but on its storage, and replaces the traditional keyboard with a remote. The EPC includes wireless capabilities and combines a digital audio player, digital video recorder and high-definition television (HDTV) tuner into one device. Intel has made the EPC available to consumer electronics manufacturers and products should be on the market by mid-2004.
Otellini also showcased Intel's new digital display technology, the Intel Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCOS), which allows for "film-like" HDTV at affordable prices without the use of any analog technology. By mid-year 2004, consumers can expect to find 50-inch Intel LCOS HDTV displays at retail outlets for $1800, said Otellini.
Sharing his insights on the digital home before a standing-room-only crowd, Michael Dell of Dell Computer Corp. delivered the day's second Industry Insider. A relatively new entrant in the consumer electronics marketplace, Dell Computer already offers a wide range of products from LCD televisions and HD-capable projectors to handheld devices with built-in WiFi capabilities and "Dell DJ" MP3 players with a 15-hour battery life. Dell dedicated a significant portion of his presentation to the issue of electronics recycling and announced a community grant program through which Dell will be awarding funds to communities interested in implementing local recycling programs. Additionally, the company now will recycle up to 50 pounds of hardware for $7.50.
Ivan Seidenberg, chairman and CEO of Verizon, delivered the final Industry Insider of the day. Seidenberg proclaimed broadband and mobility are bringing about a transformation in how consumers communicate with each other. Seidenberg announced the addition of new EVDO technology that brings broadband to your laptop whenever and wherever you please. In addition, Seidenberg touted iobi, a new network-based multi-modem technology enhancing communication. The technology helps consumers manage a complete personal communications network to include phone numbers, calls received and other features to help map a personal communications universe. To compliment iobi, Seidenberg also announced Verizon One, a multi-functional device that serves as a wireless phone, DSL modem and Wi-Fi router. Compatible with iobi, Seidenberg said Verizon One will become the communications command center for the home.
Today's Bet on Accessories: Train to Sell, Succeed at Sales session provided insights and strategies for retailers interested in boosting revenue through increased sales of CE accessories. The Second City Comedy Troupe injected humor by highlighting the session's key messages in a series of fun and entertaining skits. In addition, Tom Edwards of NPD Techworld moderated a panel of industry experts, including Henry Chiarelli of CompUSA, David Munzlinger of Belkin and Rami Rostami of Technocell. The interactive discussion focused on ways retailers can effectively train and incentivize their sales staff to increase accessory attachment rates by focusing on the benefits of CE accessories and the essential role they play in enhancing product performance. In-store and online strategies for ensuring that CE accessories were top of mind throughout the buying process also were discussed.
The day closed with the show's second keynote presentation by HP's Carly Fiorina. Fiorina stated the world is entering an era where all content is digital, mobile and virtual. HP's Digital Entertainment System will ensure every physical analog process will become digital in the home. Fiorina stated the HP Digital Entertainment System will allow consumers to access their entertainment content from anywhere in the home at any time. Central focal points to this system include the HP Media Center PC, HP digital displays, digital video projectors and the iPaq will serve as the content organizer and remote control for all products. Switching to music, Fiorina announced a partnership with Apple that will allow the popular iTunes service to run on the new HP digital music player set to hit the store shelves later this year.