I took the LimoLiner luxury bus from Framingham to New York City today in order to attend the CEA’s annual press preview event. I’m blogging this note from the bus using my iPad. The laptop is in the bag, with it’s dead battery. Being an obsolete computer, I’ve been postponing any upgrade or change until the economy comes back with more enthusiasm. Besides, it still works pretty well when it’s plugged in.

Anyways, for some reason, there’s no power at this particular seat, but there was on the trip to New York. So, the iPad works well even though it’s a two finger typing routine. That’s because the hands would get in the way of seeing what I’m typing and there are guides on the soft keyboard to keep the fingers over the correct keys…

Speakers included the Consumer Electronics Association’s directors of research, industry analysis, events and Gary Shapiro, president.

Starting with a review of several consumer electronics trends, Shawn Du Bravac, director of research and his sidekick, Steve Koenig, director of industry analysis set the stage for the 200 or so press and analysts. They set an upbeat tone: research shows that this Christmas retailing season will be very strong. Some cornerstones of CE retail: Black Friday, product/service bundles and cyberMonday are being stretched, extended and moved earlier in the calendar year major retail brands such as Sears, Walmart and Best Buy. (Anecdotal confirmation of this trend: in my local grocer Christmas candy is now filling up the aisle that had been Halloween candy.) Also, the CEA notes that home appliances are appearing at the CES show in Vegas in January 2011 for the first time.

After modest growth over a disastrous 2008, the CEA is projecting a healthy growth. 74% of consumers interviewed (over 1000 participants) are planning to purchase gifts for Christmas, and 85% of adults in the survey are wishing for electronics. Biggest desired items: tablets/ereaders, ipods, game consoles, smart phones and flatscreen TVs.

2011 CES International promises to be the biggest CE trade show ever with an expected 120,000 visitors, new categories and lots of conference sessions. There’ll be an Entertianment Matters at CES where folks in the entertainment business can learn about the tie-INS to the consumer electronics industry.

Also, Gary Shapiro spoke of the association’s political influence and his meetings with congressman Eric Cantor and FCC chairman. Big point: radio chips in cellphones should only happen because the CE industry wants to sell phone with it, not because of some misguided congressional attempt to save the radio industry. Gary has a book out too: The Comeback.

The chief monster of Monster Cable announced that the annual concert and Monster Retailer Awards at the CES in Las Vegas would headline Earth, Wind and Fire who are celebrating their fortieth year in the music business. It was pretty eccentric. The chief monster came out on a Segway, and two CEA ladies carried out a giant poster covered of course, until Mr Lee gave his run up to the announcement. Then he introduced the bass in the group, Verdine White who came out and spoke.

And, then a few of the amazing innovations were showcased. More on these in other posts.

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