Sunday, January 11, 2009

CES 2009 -- No Taxi Lines (or What a Difference a Year Makes ...)

I just returned from CES 2009, my annual pilgrimage -- like the rest of you -- to kick off the new year.

This past Thursday CES's first day of CES -- and my flight from San Diego landed at 9:30 am that morning. As I landed, I expected -- and dreaded -- the usual 45 minute to one hour taxi line to get to the show (it was the first day after all). But, as I breezed through the airport terminal to the taxi line, I was instead downright shocked and could hear crickets instead. No wait whatsoever.

Obviously, this "serenity" is not what CES organizers (or Las Vegas for that matter) wanted to see -- and, perhaps best underscores the current economic climate. While bodies were still bumping into one another in all of the convention halls, the usual "human pinball" was decidedly and clearly different than in years past.

Maybe for this reason the floor was filled more with "the usual suspects" -- larger and larger flat panel TVs -- than revolutionary and visionary new gadgets.

Yet, as always, CES is a must in my view. This year's set of meetings for me was even more efficient than usual precisely because transportation in and out of the convention center was downright painless. People were on time for meetings for once. And, of course, some of the best meetings are those that are unplanned -- bumping into colleagues and sharing war stories.