Gary Shapiro, president of the newly renamed Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which was just changed from the Consumer Electronics Association Monday night, said the 2016 CES is changing this year as well, and admission is getting both broader and more selective at the same time. In short, if you are not directly involved in some business, financial or legislative aspect of the consumer technology industries: No CES for you!

Shapiro lauded the attendance figures of the 2015 show, which surpassed 170,000, but as the “the greatest global technology event” grows in size with more exhibitors from a wider variety of product segments, Shapiro is now trying to keep last year’s number “as an absolute cap.”
In order to represent as many technology professionals as possible and “ease some of the pressure on airlines and hotels,” various measures have been put in place to discourage non-trade traffic, he said.

More on plans for 2016 CES after the jump:

Of course, this has always been the policy of the show, but in an effort to keep CES growing in the past, some provisions were made to attract some hard core enthusiasts. Now, however, the emphasis is quality over quantity, Shapiro declared.

In part, this is being driven by escalating prices for airfares and hotel rooms, which are making travel plans to Las Vegas cost prohibitive to some of the primary companies and attendees the CTA is trying to attract the event; for the past five years, the CTA has cut exhibiter rates and offered prime booth locations in the Eureka Park section of the show to cash-strapped startup companies, and while this has helped many newcomers gain entrée to the industry, it’s now getting to the point where T&E expenses are too high for some to take advantage of the visibility the show affords them.

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Shapiro said CES continues to change this year, with less emphasis being given to what had been the show’s bread-&-butter: audio and video technology trends, in favor of more diversity of products, applications and industries, including: the Internet of Things, automotive technology, health and wellness, robotics and drones, 3D printing, entertainment and content, gaming and virtual reality.

At the same time, the show will continue to provide a launching platform for new developments in emerging A/V trends like 4K Ultra HDTV. Expected announcements will be standards for high dynamic range and wide color gamut in TVs, plans for the launch of the first Ultra HD Blu-ray players, and more 4K UHD streaming and download activities.

Still, Shawn DuBravac, CTA chief economist and senior research director, used the CES Unveiled event in New York City Tuesday to issue a deeper look at holiday purchase trends as forecasted by CTA research. DuBravac said 2015 will see a spending shift from big-screen HD TVs to less expensive audio, mobile and emerging tech devices as part of a projected long-decelerating purchase trajectory following a succession of seasonal consumer electronics sales growth of 4.7 percent on average over the previous 10 years and 6.7 percent over the past 20.

DuBravac cited studies indicating that 74 percent of gift buyers plan to purchase consumer electronics items for the holidays, up from 73 percent last year, with sales growth slowing to 2.3 percent this season to $34.2 billion, following a 3 percent increase in 2014.

DuBravac noted less interest in TV among consumers this season, as interest picks up for smaller-ticket mobile and emerging tech products.

LCD TVs, now found in 84 percent of households, have dropped into third place among the largest selling consumer tech categories by factory shipment, accounting for some $18.6 billion in estimated factory dollar volume this year, he said.

The top-ranked category is smartphones, with a 79 percent household pentration rate, which is expected to reach $53.6 billion in projected shipments this year, according to CTA forecasts.

Only 17 percent of video buyers plan to purchase a TV set this season, compared with 24 percent last year, but among those who do buy, 78 percent expect the TV to be ready to stream content from the Internet, up from 63 percent last year, and 59 percent expect to buy a 4K/Ultra HD model. The CTA has forecast 4K Ultra HDTV shipment reaching 4.5 million units for 2015, up from the 1.4 million units shipped last year.

By screen size, the CTA study found that 79 percent of holiday shoppers expect to purchase a set with a screen measuring less than 60 inches, and 35 percent want a TV 60 inches or greater.

Following the holidays, this year’s CES will feature some 2,200 technology companies – 80 percent of which will be small businesses and startups. It will feature more than 20,000 new products, more and 3,600 exhibitors “and it will set the tone for the next year of innovation,” Shapiro said, adding that the 2.3 million net square feet of exhibit space in 2016 will be the largest in the show’s 49-year history.

CTAlogoAt the core of all this, Shapiro said, will be innovation, and in that spirit of evolution and change, the Association is changing as well, starting with its new CTA name, which he said more accurately reflects the body’s vision, scope of activity, current membership base and brand promise.

The CTA’s membership has now grown beyond simply consumer electronics companies to include: automakers, social media companies, Internet content distributors, e-commerce, online and personal security, virtual and augmented reality systems, content producers and others.

As for the show, Shapiro said the name CES is not changing except for the dropping of the descriptor “International,” which has become redundant for a global event as big and well known as this one, but the name no longer narrowly defines simply consumer electronics.

This year’s keynote speaker will be NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke, who will speak as the C Space Keynote, presented by MediaLink, at 2 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016, at the Westgate Theater in Las Vegas. The speech will include an exclusive interview with Burke moderated by Michael E. Kassan, chairman and CEO of MediaLink, and will be immediately followed by a panel discussion moderated by Wenda Harris Millard with top media and marketing leaders.

The session will explore the intersection of devices; the content that lies beneath, within or over-the-top of these devices.

By Greg Tarr


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