Even though the general public can't get in and you can't really buy anything here, CES is essentially one big sales pitch.
Giant, city-sized ads hang over the sides of many of the Vegas hotels, pushing everything from HTC's newest phone to some kind of "Smart" TV. Beautiful women in skin-tight circuit-board-themed bodysuits populate the Intel CES party. Hawk-eyed product managers stand by their companies' booths on the lookout for retail executives or the much-anticipated "government purchaser."
But really, what better way to sell something than by using celebrities?
Last year, while on the showroom floor, I caught a glimpse of Lady Gaga and Dr. Dre, surrounded by a phalanx of security guards. They were here to promote some kind of headphone set, I think. This year, Lady Gaga will likely be back to push her new camera, developed by Polaroid, where she serves as a creative director.
She certainly won't be the only celebrity here.
As you read this, rap and Twitter superstar 50 Cent is signing autographs at the convention. He's here on behalf of a company called Sleek Audio, which I guess makes audio products. Sleek ones.
Monster, the company behind some of the most ambitiously priced cables and headphones on the planet, is hosting a concert by Earth, Wind and Fire, the members of which are celebrating their 40th anniversary. They are, the press release asserts, bringing an orchestra with them.
Research In Motion is bringing a whole bunch of celebrities I've never heard of, and one I have. Rapper Common will be making an appearance on behalf of the BlackBerry maker, apparently one of several big names "talking about how doing what they love has transcended their careers to become their lifestyle." Presumably this means they will be talking about BlackBerrys.
Bob Marley's family is here, too. They're actually running a business of their own, selling Marley-branded audio products.
Larry King is supposed to be here somewhere. As are dozens of sports stars, celebrity chefs and people who once came very close to winning various reality shows.
But perhaps the most impressive celebrity get of the show goes to Panasonic. At some point today, the electronics-maker will make some sort of Star Wars-related announcement, and they've managed to secure the services of Darth Vader. According to the press release, he "commands" me to be there, and "the force is strong" with him, and about a dozen other Star Wars puns.Report Typo/Error