I’m not the gambler in my family but I’ve already won one roll of the dice: checking for rate changes a few times brought me an affordable (for CES) room at the Venetian. The late easy availability of rooms at one of the headquarter hotels is worth noting for another reason: it’s strictly the law of supply and demand. One hotel does not a trend make but I’ve noticed availability at a lot of them for all but a couple of nights. A few factors are at work: this is a weekday CES for most attendees, it’s competing with MacWorld, etc. I’m not suggesting a huge drop in attendance but I’m getting the sense that some people see it as more discretionary this time around.
The other aspect I’m wondering about during the traditional last-minute rush is the overarching theme this year. Despite many of my colleagues’ curtain-raisers, I’m not sure I see one yet. Content/traditional media? Portability? HD (again)? Broadband? The panels aren’t very different from any of last year’s conferences. In a way, the variety of the keynotes (in addition to the perennial Bill Gates) speaks to the fragmentation: Ed Zander, chairman and CEO, Motorola; Michael Dell, chairman, Dell; Les Moonves, CEO, CBS; Bob Iger, CEO, Disney. Not in the spotlight this year: Google or Yahoo.
And yet, along with the chance to gadget gaze and connect with people, in a sense it’s that uncertainty and mix that makes CES a must for me. If you’re not going, I’ll take you along for as much of the ride as I can. If you are, please use the comments to tell us why. My schedule is filling up but you can try me at staci AT paidcontent.org — actual breaking news and party invites always welcome. I’ll be there Saturday through Wednesday.