3 views on CES 2022

CES is still a fantastic car show — but if you work at a hardware startup, it’s time to rethink your media strategy.

For fifty-four years, big and small hardware manufacturers that hoped to reach their target audiences rolled out new products at the Consumer Electronics Show.

The first CES event in June 1967 drew 17,500 attendees, where many in the crowd were absolutely dazzled by GE’s new 24-pound color television. In the intervening decades, the conference grew so much, it essentially created its own gravity. The last in-person CES held in 2020 attracted a total verified attendance of 171,268, according to organizers.

The trade show shifted to online-only in 2021, but CES returned last week, even though many exhibitors and publications (including this one) declined to send representatives, citing the ongoing omicron surge. “It’s time we return to making the world better rather than living in fear,” wrote Consumer Trade Association president and CEO Gary Shapiro in an opinion column.

But just 40,000 people attended, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal. That’s a 75% decline.

If an event only attracts 25% of its usual crowd, for whom is it essential? Today, TechCrunch Transportation Editor Kirsten Korosec, Hardware Editor Brian Heater and reporter Haje Jan Kamps shared their thoughts on CES 2022:

  • Kristin Korosec: CES hasn’t lost its automotive luster
  • Brian Heater: Hardware startups should reconsider their media strategies
  • Haje Jan Kamps: I missed it sorely this year

Kristin Korosec: CES hasn’t lost its automotive luster

Somewhere around 2014 or so, CES turned into a car show. And even with the latest variant of COVID derailing in-person plans for many companies, CES 2022 didn’t lose its automotive luster.

This year was different in a few respects, signaling that the automotive industry has taken a few cupfuls of we-really-need-revenue punch. Technology that is further away from commercialization showed up, but not in the same force as in previous years. CES 2022 was not the year for evtols, hyperloop, and to a lesser degree, autonomous vehicle technology.

“The weeks following CES have traditionally been a desert for hardware news. Fill that vacuum.”

Autonomous vehicle technology wasn’t absent from the show, and there were some key announcements and activities. A few of the notable ones included the head-to-head autonomous racecar competition at the Las Vegas Speedway, GM CEO Mary Barra’s intention to sell personal autonomous vehicles by mid-decade (although some key details were missing) and Intel subsidiary Mobileye’s plan to bring a new supercomputer to market designed to give passenger cars, trucks and SUVs autonomous driving powers. When automated driving did come up, it was often in the form of future promises, narrowly defined autonomous features like parking — or both.The Mobileye announcement points to one of the themes at CES 2022: compute.

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