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No Microsoft at CES 2013? No problem

International consumer electronics show expects to match record crowds next week

By Matt Hamblen, Computerworld
January 04, 2013 08:00 AM ET

Computerworld - Microsoft won't have its signature mega-booth at International CES 2013 starting next week in Las Vegas, but that's not expected to lessen the trade show's impact, or largesse.

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Show organizers said there will be 3,200 exhibitors and they expect 156,000 visitors -- matching the record number that attended in 2012. Last year, there were about 3,000 booths, but Microsoft said afterwards it would withdraw from the event after years of attending.

"We're looking at record exhibit space and more exhibitors," CES spokeswoman Tara Dunion told Computerworld.

Like Google and Apple, Microsoft has decided it will rely primarily on its own events to promote its products, which doesn't deter CES with its array of small and large companies -- many that will come to meet with partners and suppliers in private rooms both inside the exhibit hall and in remote hotels.

Even without a booth, Microsoft is holding meetings with reporters, partners and suppliers in private spaces, Microsoft and CES officials confirmed.

"A handful of large companies like Microsoft will do what they want and they'll surely get attention," Dunion said. A special area for exhibitors new to CES called Eureka Park will have 140 vendors, up from 100 last year, she said.

Microsoft's booth absence means there probably won't be official word of the exact date that the Windows 8 Surface Pro tablet ships, although it has been promised for late January, say several analysts.

In general, smartphones and tablets will again be big news at CES this year, although to a lesser extent than two years ago or last year, according to four analysts. In 2011, Verizon Wireless announced half a dozen smartphones and tablets it would sell, but this time is not expected to be making similar hardware news even though Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam is delivering a keynote on Tuesday.

CES said in December that about 1,500 of the exhibitors will be showing off wireless-related products, which go far beyond smartphone and tablet hardware to include ways to integrate handheld wireless devices -- often simply through embedded chips -- with cars and homes. Connecting data on wireless devices to the cloud will be another theme of wireless vendors.

Whether the tablet and smartphone hardware news at CES is considered as hot as it was in recent years, the economic potential for both product categories remains huge. Research by the Consumer Electronics Association shows that smartphones alone will remain the "primary" revenue driver for the entire consumer electronics industry in 2013 (including TVs and many other areas), with a 16% increase over 2012 of smartphones shipping to retailers (reaching 125 million devices) and driving $37 billion in global revenues.

The association also believes tablet shipments will soar by 54% in 2013 over last year to 105 million devices, creating $35 billion in revenue.

The emergence of the WiGig standard will mean that some exhibitors show off ways at CES to transfer video and music at speeds of 7Gbps within the space of a living room, for example. (In a related development, the WiMax Alliance announced a merger with the Wireless Gigabit Alliance on Thursday.)

Originally published on www.computerworld.com. Click here to read the original story.

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