More than 150,000 exhibitors, analysts, reporters and industry players are expected to descend on Las Vegas this week for the annual International Consumer Electronics Show. For decades, CES has served as the marketing and networking hub for the technology industry, the showground for the year’s coming trends and product launches. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, which runs the show, there will be about 3,200 exhibitors at this year’s show, previewing products and services ranging from ultra-HD televisions to remote-control quadcopters.
But this year’s CES also finds the industry’s biggest trade show struggling with a bit of an identity crisis. Last year, long-time show anchor Microsoft announced it was no longer interested in running the annual keynote presentation.
In addition, many of the most important technology companies in the world, such as Apple and Google, don’t have a public presence at the show, even though their products are the basis for many of the peripherals on display.
Still, the industry continues to look to CES for signs of what product categories are likely to dominate the rest of the year. This year, four trends in particular are likely to differentiate the 2014 CES from previous years.
Security and privacy tools
Health and fitness technology
Traditionally, CES has been almost totally dedicated to companies that build hardware. But in recent years, the number of firms at the show dedicated to services and software has grown substantially. This year, executives from some of the biggest Internet companies in the world are coming to CES, some for the first time ever. Yahoo head Marissa Mayer is scheduled to give one of the keynote talks. Executives from Facebook, Salesforce and Twitter are also expected to speak at the conference, despite having virtually no presence there in previous years.