Another Consumer Electronics Show has come and gone. The mood at this year’s show was somber, but even as many fellow writers were looking for work and the booths less crowded – attendance was down considerably – the opinion was that things will likely get better soon. And according to Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association, it will be the CE industry that leads the way. In fact, Mr. Shapiro noted that expected revenue for 2009 will only be down about 0.6 percent or essentially flat. This won’t be because of falling sales, but stronger sales of some devices as prices fall. (For a full recap of what Shapiro had to say, please check out my recap for the Official CES Show Daily).
But the recession could be seen in other ways. While the show has lost some of its glitz over the years, this was the first time this reporter can say that journalists lined up in droves for the lackluster press lunch boxes provided throughout the show. A decade ago the media attendees could count on a full lunch spread and now it is a box worthy of something you’d take to your first day of school!
That said, I passed on my lunch coupons to a beefy looking freelance writer, and headed over to the still Vegas-worthy Lunch@Pieros media event. This non-official event not only has a hearty lunch (as the name of course suggests) but Pat Meier-Johnson has managed to once again provide a quiet venue for those companies that might otherwise be lost on the massive show floors (even in a recession CES includes three main show halls at the Las Vegas Convention Center, plus spillover halls in the Hilton, as well as a full show hall at the Sands Convention Center with even more meeting rooms in the adjacent Venetian Hotel).
These included two companies:
Truphone – the U.K.-based company that I wrote about last week. I had a chance to check out its new VOIP technology for the iPhone, and as reported it will also be available for the iPod Touch. The benefit for users is super low-priced international calls, even if you’re not connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot. And better still if you use this phone to connect with other Skype callers when using Skype, the calls are free!
Open Moko – this company is rolling out its line of Neo Phones, open source devices that will be extremely customizable. This means you can get just the exact apps you want on your phone, and even add features to suit your needs. The phones are no frills but this makes them ideal for both frequent business travelers, and small businesses that might want to send the “office mobile phone” out on the road.
In addition, Lunch@Pieros also allowed me a chance to check out the latest computers from VIA. These are highly recommended to those “road warriors” and other business travelers. The line of computers include ultra compacts, netbooks and other super sleek but far from underpowered laptop computers. This was one case where going smaller in a tight economy is a good thing.