CES is expected to be smaller and more sedate this year. Still, it will feature some big news from industry giants like Sony, Intel, Ford, and Microsoft. Netbooks, OLED displays, and 3-D TV are expected to be the hottest items.  (Source: REUTERS/Steve Marcus)
CES in Vegas is expected to be smaller this year with less glitz

The tough economy has hit everything from the internet business, to the auto industry, to the computer manufacturing industry.  Trade shows, long an exciting part of the industry, have suffered with the slowing economy.  Once unthinkable moves, like Apple announcing it will no longer be coming to Macworld, became more frequent over the latter half of last year.

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES), arguably the world's biggest electronics show, which takes place later this week, is expected to become the latest victim of the bad economy.  The show is expected to have fewer manufacturers, retailers and people expected in attendance.

Where last year featured massive 150-inch prototype TVs and focused on big, those showing this year will be shifting their focus to lean.  Green items and small money-saving gadgets are expected to be the hot tickets as consumers' wallets tighten.

CES 2009 is reporting that 130,000 people will likely come to the show, down from the 141,000 who attended last year.  Exhibitors have dropped from 3,000 to 2,700, spread over the same 1.7 million square feet space.  There's even room at Las Vegas hotel rooms and resorts, something that was unheard of in the past.

One trend is that many businesses are reserving meeting rooms.  Many of the business are expected to meet with each other's representatives, and engage in business otherwise reserved for customer visits at the show.  Such measures help businesses justify the cost of coming to CES in these troubled times.

Jason Oxman of the Consumer Electronics Association describes this shift, stating, "A lot of companies are asking us for meeting rooms that haven't done so in the past.  Companies are looking to do business at the show that they would otherwise do with individual customer visits."

Kumu Puri, a senior executive with Accenture Ltd's emphasizes the shows focus shifting to smaller gadgets like mobile devices, video games and personal navigation systems.  He states, "Those are the categories that really continue to appeal to the consumer ... they're at price points that are a little bit more manageable.

One of the hottest tickets at CES 2009 is expected to be netbooks.  With every manufacturer besides Apple jumping on the netbook trend, netbooks are expected to litter the CES floor.  Some are predicting that the market will see netbooks at or beneath $200 this year.

While Acer Inc. and Asustek Computer Inc. have dominated the netbook market, PC sales market leaders HP and Dell have struggled to catch up.  Sony, which thus far has stayed out of netbooks, is expected to be cooking up a model of its own, possibly to debut at CES.

The show still is drawing some of the biggest names in the tech business with Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, Cisco Systems Inc CEO John Chambers, Sony Corp CEO Howard Stringer, Intel Corp Chairman Craig Barrett and Ford Motor Co CEO Alan Mulally all giving keynotes.

Other hot items for the show are organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays, which offer superior picture and less power use, and 3-D television.  NVIDIA, Sony and others are pushing 3-D video as the future of entertainment, with the technology already deployed in many movie theaters.  The technology may hit the consumer market this year.

"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer

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