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CES 2010 to Feature Apple Orchard - With or Without Apple

CES 2010 to Feature Apple Orchard - With or Without Apple

The CEA says that CES 2010 will feature an area specifically devoted to makers of Apple-related products. What's unknown, however, is whether Apple itself will set up an official display there. The company recently bailed on Macworld -- would it make sense to go to another show that happens at roughly the same time?

By Chris Maxcer MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
01/12/09 12:10 PM PT

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has confirmed that an Apple-focused area will come to its huge Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in 2010, though it currently can't confirm that Apple itself will set up an official exhibit.

Apple created a furor in December when it announced that this year's Macworld conference in San Francisco would be its last. Apple also cited the success of its retail stores and the assertion that trade shows have declined in value to Apple, which has been scaling back on all trade shows. Macworld and CES both occur in early January and often overlap, and Apple's Macworld exit has raised concerns that Macworld may not be able to survive without Apple's participation.

Regardless of Macworld's 2010 efforts, CES is already looking ahead to its 2010 show and prepping to offer Apple-minded consumers a special zone.

"I can confirm that CEA will have a special area at the 2010 CES dedicated to Apple-related CE (consumer electronics) manufacturers and that the decision was based on discussions we've had with companies regarding 2010 show participation. Overall, we are pleased with the feedback we've received regarding the space," Jennifer Boone Bemisderfer, senior manager of communications for the CEA, told MacNewsWorld.

Bemisderfer declined to elaborate and did not say whether Apple would participate directly -- though the assumption is that CES would probably welcome Apple if the company decided to attend.

Interesting Choices for Manufacturers Next Year

If CES does indeed offer an Apple-focused area next year, and if Macworld is still kicking even though Apple won't be there, how might some participating vendors respond?

"For us, because we make so many other products and work with other technology manufacturers and have relationships with RIM (Research In Motion), Palm, HP, I don't see us doing an Apple-specific booth only," Kristin Golliher, a spokesperson for OtterBox, told MacNewsWorld. Otterbox makes cases for handheld devices.

"The hall that we're in at CES is a mobile electronics consumer type of hall, so it covers all that right now," she added.

"But it really comes down to what it means in January 2010, if they [IDG] continue Macworld even if Apple is not the headliner of the show ... obviously we'll probably continue to do that show. At the same time, too, if there's no Macworld, and if it was beneficial to do a booth in both places at CES, we might consider that as it gets closer," Golliher explained.

While Apple cites a declining need for trade shows that get their products into the hands of potential buyers, the shows are still critical for many vendors. For firms like OtterBox, which makes three different lines of strong and waterproof cases for iPhones and other electronic devices, the chance to show off their wares to hands-on consumers is important.

"Our Web site does an awesome job, but it's good to work with our customers and get our cases into their hands -- and we gave away a ton of samples at the shows," Golliher noted.

So What About Apple?

Apple has its retail stores, of course, and the company did not respond to inquiries from MacNewsWorld at press time. Still, might Apple attend CES?

"While Apple has withdrawn from Macworld, where its new product announcements dominated the event, I don't see Apple moving to CES. As a leading smartphone vendor -- I do think that Apple would benefit from participation at the CTIA conferences, which are more mobile focused. However, given the free press that Apple receives, it might continue to get more attention by not participating," Chris Hazelton, research director of Mobile and Wireless for The 451 Group, told MacNewsWorld.

It's unlikely that Apple would attend CES, agreed Kurt Scherf, vice president and principal analyst at Parks Associates.

"I think Apple has gotten so used to building an aura of exclusivity, I just don't see them breaking that at this point," Scherf told MacNewsWorld.

"And their model is so different -- it's so much based on direct distribution online and through their Apple retail stores," he added.

Which shows might it attend in the future?

"It might be a CTIA or GSM World ... even just to continue to have a presence in front of the folks in the mobile applications development space," he noted.

Perhaps Apple is already at CES -- in spirit, anyway. "The ultimate irony is that Apple is just driving so much of the thought leadership at CES as it is," Scherf added.


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