The most frequent question in the past week was “How was CES?”, “What did you learned ?”, “What did you preferred?”, “Is there an interest to go at CES for us?” … I tried in this post to get, not a direct answer to these questions but direction where anyone can find the reason to visit or to exhibit to CES. You may add some more but they are the one that flashed my mind when visiting. Do not hesitate to complete in comment.
What is CES ?
I won’t start to tell it is a consumer electronic show !! No ! CES is a too big show where 150.000 people are coming with about 50.000 people are exhibitors and media. It is a half week where you have to make really difficult choice : what will I see and what will I missed ? Do I choose to follow conferences or exhibitors ? Whatever the choose you are making you will always have a regret for not doing the other one. Not because your regret your experience but because your discussions with other will let you regret to have missed what they see.
CES is a run, a run of 16km per days, so you really have to wear good shoes or you will do like me : buy a new one, once you find time for doing it and with the regret to have missed something nice somewhere else. So CES is intensive, if you planed to visit LasVegas, plan to arrive earlier or leave after of eventually do it during night as the city never close.
I had the chance to be at CES as press and that was really nice because I had 2 extra days at CES on Monday and Tuesday where there is only exhibitor & press. This is a great opportunity to learn a lot in good conditions. By-the-way, these conditions are nos cool condition, you also have to run between the different conferences even if they are in the same hotel.
Where do you need to be at CES ?
First thing is a good hotel near the strip : as you have to run and walk a lot if passing through the hotel is complex and need time you will loose this precious missing time. Too bad ! Ground transportation in Las Vegas is not really well, so it is important to be able to reach the CES area directly by using DEUCE bus line or Monorail line. The Monorail is full of people and you can queue a lot as it is one of the easiest way to go from LVCC to Sand the two different place where CES is. DEUCE has been empty enough every-time I had to take it. So being on the DEUCE line is good. Being able to reach LVCC or SAND, both walking is even better.
Why going to CES ?
There are many reason to be at CES, the first one is to feel the year trends in consumer electronic and in my point of view these are two things to feel (it depends what you are looking for by-the-way) The first things is what startup are actually proposing as fun ideas and from this area you can have many new idea coming to your head, it is really an area where you can have creative activity. The second things is what classical company are proposing : by discovering the number of time you see the same thing in different company you really have a great idea of what is coming soon, what is rising and what uniq but most of the time dead. The matter is innovation is many time in details : you don’t have a lot of time on each if you want to see everything and you missed some important details like the precision of a sensor that is unusual even if this type of sensor is not an innovation. For this reason it is better to come with colleague and split the CES expo area where each one will take time to see everything.
Another reason to go to CES is to follow conferences : you have many one on many topics and you can spend all your time covering one topic. The speakers are really good one most of the time coming from the industry.
You can also come to hear Startup speech, meet startup : different event are showing startup and CES is not the only place to be, so for this activity you really have to plan it early because to receive invite for external events you have to anticipate.
And you can be at CES for business, even as an attendee, the number of good commercial contact I had or I was able to had was incredible : you can easily touch people you will never touch anywhere else. It is really true as I’m french and even if you have in front of you a big boss, he will be happy to talk to you in french and share a beer with you even talking business. Something you will never have in a French conference where every one have its standing and kind of class restriction for talking.
Why being at CES as exhibitor ?
It was really interesting to me to see exhibitor like LaPoste, the french mail company. To be honest they had nothing to show really interesting, they show a SigFox button which is a non innovative thing in term of technology, could be an innovative marketing service but as it is working no-one understand the interest it has (what is never wrote in the post on this, is you have to push the button, then go to the web with you desktop/smartphone and type many information … meaning you can do the same without the button …) They have nothing to sell in the USA. They came with a mix of startup not so innovative and with larger company able to come by themselves.. Sorry Laposte for the bashing but my purpose is not to bash you, it is to say that your come is in my point of view a GREAT SUCCESS. LaPoste had a lot of really good post saying they have show great innovations … blablabla. The exhibit was really nice : people, color .. everything was in place for nice photo, nice tweet and nice press report.
What I mean : anyone coming to the CES have 100’s of post telling they are great innovation, fabulous ideas, marvelous people … blablabla So, for a reasonable price, companies and startup are getting a really good press coverage and it kickstart most of the projects.
LaPoste strategy was good : they have nothing to sell to american basically, they are not really doing consumer electronic but they offer some space to some startup and company more relevant for CES and they got a great media exposure. French media really like CES and they are making a lot of communication that week, so it is a success. What they did well was also to come and show one « innovation » and they got a good communication on it. The product was easy for media to explain and to understand.
It is the same thing for startups: I have shown really good startup coming to show product and get contact for North American market. I have shown small startup showing really early prototypes. Both got a lot of good media post and taking great commercial opportunities, not only for North American market but also European market and potentially asian one.
So being in CES offers a really qualified market and media exposure. It needs to be prepared a long time before the event and it needs an investment but as much as I shown this investment is a good one, mostly if you show something media never show before or something mass market will find funny / new / bizarre .