Consumer electronics show: Signs of life

Chris O’Brien and Andrea Chang / Los Angeles Times /

LAS VEGAS — For a corpse, the International Consumer Electronics Show was pretty lively.

The 2013 trade show, which ended a four-day run Friday, attracted a record 3,250 exhibitors and was on pace to match last year’s 156,000 in attendance despite being pronounced all but dead before it started.

The reason for the grim diagnosis by some pundits and analysts was simple. Many of the most influential tech companies in the world didn’t officially participate: Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp., Google Inc., Facebook Inc., Amazon .com Inc.

Although this year’s show won’t be remembered for any ground-shaking innovations or jaw-dropping product launches, it did highlight several ways the global technology industry has evolved. From the rise of Samsung Electronics Co. to the decline of 3-D as a critical selling point for TVs, the show still offered several important insights. Technology analyst Rob Enderle published an essay before the show titled: “Why CES Will Suck This Year.” Much to his surprise, it didn’t.

Enderle noted that in the absence of the major U.S. tech companies, Samsung took center stage.

The South Korean company is now the leading seller of smartphones and has emerged as one of Apple’s key rivals for mobile supremacy. The company’s pre-show news conference Monday easily drew the biggest line of journalists while its keynote show included a guest appearance by former President Bill Clinton.

“Samsung owned the show,” Enderle said.Unlike past years, Apple did not seem to “hover like a cloud.” Instead, following Samsung’s lead, he said the show expanded its international feel as three Chinese companies made big impacts: Lenovo for PCs; Huawei for phones; and Hisense for phones and TVs.