(Belated) Snap Judgments from #CES

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>Quite the crowd at CES 2011Last week, I had the fortune of attending my first ever Consumer Electronics Show (CES) out in Vegas. If you’re even the slightestturned on by technology, then you’ve heard of this show or have been pining to attend your entire life. Here’s my advice.

Go.

It’s not an expensive event to attend. Registration for the show can be free so you’re just out travel expenses. If you’re looking to exhibit, I’m sure the fees are pretty spicy, but there certainly was no shortage of companies in the booths. Here are some of my snap judgments from the show as a first-time attendee.

  • I have a new definition of what “crowded” means. You pack that many exhibitors & attendees into one convention center and it can get a little testy. I’ve seen estimates that between 120,000 and 140,000 were expected to attend the 4-day show.
  • The folks at TweetReach did an analysis of the #CES hash tag. Just on January 7, there were 130,000 Tweets using #CES.
  • The organizers of the show attempted to engage people in Foursquare through a special CES badge by checking in to multiple locations at the show. I’m not sure how successful they were. But I knew if I was out there, I was going to get the badge. And once you earned your Foursquare badge, you could pick up a CES pin to wear. (I was on the only person I saw wearing the pin.)
  • Attendees who used Foursquare also likely earned the coveted Super Duper Swarm badge, but I was disappointed not to get the Epic Swarm badge (1000+ checkins).
  • There were tablets everywhere. BlackBerry probably made the most noise with their announcement of the Playbook. But the tablet that started the recent craze, the iPad, and its manufacturer, Apple, were nowhere to be seen at CES.
  • That is unless you looked at what attendees were carrying – iPads, iPhones, Macbooks. Apple didn’t need to exhibit because they had their own customers parading around with products.
  • If you aren’t in the market for cases for your Apple products, then the show was a lot more manageable. It seemed like half of the vendors were hawking some kind iPhone or iPad case. If this didn’t interest you, you could avoid half of the show.
  • It was impressive to see some of the amazing displays and exhibits put on by the likes of Panasonic, LG, Toshiba, Intel, Microsoft and the like. No money was spared in this marketing version of a chest-thumping event.
  • But for those that likely spent millions on their exhibits, some companies used the oldest marketing trick in the book.
  • And then there some companies I did not expect to be there.
  • I enjoyed watching the live news broadcasts that occurred from the show floor. That showed not only the importance of the event, but it’s impact on the financial futures of many involved companies.
  • As I was walking the show floor, I caught wind of the news that Skype would be acquiring Qik. I ventured over to Skype booth to see what the full details. The employees there had no idea about the breaking news. A great lesson learned in internal communications.

Whether you are B2B or B2C, CES is worth checking if anything to see how companies market their products. And CES draws all kinds, the techie gadget crowd as well as the Fortune 500 crowd. It can be a bit overwhelming at times, but then again it’s in Vegas. It wasn’t overwhelming, something is wrong.

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