Kicking Off the Technology Year

CES fills the vacuum left by Comdex.

The Consumer Electronics Show—aka International CES or just CES—kicks off Jan. 8 in Las Vegas in what has become the official start of the technology-industry year. The show has filled the vacuum left by Comdex when the latter closed the doors to its annual November tech fest in 2004 due to plummeting attendance. Microsofts Bill Gates, who used to have attendees hanging from the rafters to see his preshow Sunday night Comdex keynote, now delivers the same type of spiel prior to CES, also to a standing-room-only crowd.

Its no surprise that the consumer nature of CES has survived, and thrived, while many larger tech confabs have bitten the dust or have shrunk considerably. "Consumer technology," for lack of a better term, has been leading technology innovation in this new millennium, as users demand more control over their access to services—over the phone and into the home via the PC and television.

CES is also getting new attention from the enterprise IT audience. Its no secret that consumer technology ranging from blogs to podcasts to wikis to social networking sites has emerged in grass-roots fashion in many corporate enterprises, which we have covered in eWeek the past year. What corporate IT managers can expect to start sneaking into their companies in 2007 will probably be on display in some form at this weeks show.

And, conversely, heretofore large "enterprise" vendors want to let the public know that they do the consumer thing, too. IBM is making a return to CES this year after a 10-year absence, writes eWEEK Staff Writer Scott Ferguson here. Even though IBM is no longer in the desktop and notebook business, having sold it to Lenovo Group, the companys Power Architecture is the technological brains living inside todays hottest consumer gadgets, including Sonys PlayStation 3, Microsofts Xbox 360 and Nintendos Wii. IBM is already making a big investment in virtual online communities such as Second Life, which it will demo at the show. With more and more individuals and brick-and-mortar businesses setting up shop in Second Life, it is not a stretch to wonder when the metaverse will start infiltrating the corporate enterprise as well. Or is it the other way around?

Contact eWEEK Editor Scot Petersen at

Scot Petersen

Scot Petersen

Scot Petersen is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Prior to joining Ziff Brothers, Scot was the editorial director, Business Applications & Architecture,...