Microsoft's pullback from its usual headline role at CES starting next year can be seen as a sign that the most action-packed consumer electronics trade show of the year is losing relevance, but new stats out of the Consumer Electronics Association tell a slightly different story. The CEA is now saying that over 153,000 people attended the 2012 show, an all-time attendance record and at least a two percent improvement over last year. Additionally, this year's event apparently set records for both exhibition floor space and total exhibitors.
There's been a long-running belief that all-encompassing megashows like CES are on the way out, in part because the big companies that typically anchor them don't want their announcements to be tied to a schedule that's beyond their control. The fact that neither Microsoft nor Apple are participating in these kinds of events anymore is certainly a sign of something, but 153,000 press, exhibitors, analysts, and staff are suggesting that the death knell could be a bit premature.