One of the biggest technology shows of the year might be a little harder to get into in 2016. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), which puts on the annual Consumer Electronics Show (or CES) in the middle of Las Vegas, says it plans to cap the number of attendees after hitting a new record earlier this year. That show brought in 176,676 people whom CEA refers to as "industry professionals." At next year's show that will be limited to 176,000 people. The CEA also says there will be additional vetting for anyone who didn't attend the show in the past two years.
Unmentioned: it will still be very crowded
"With the growth of the consumer technology industry and the parallel growth of the International CES comes an increase in the qualified registrant base for our show. While these individuals are qualified industry professionals, we are reaching space capacity and simply can’t accommodate every qualified individual to our show," CEA senior vice president Karen Chupka said in a statement. "These efforts also will allow us to improve some of the logistical and operational challenges that come with producing and attending such a large event."
The CEA telegraphed the move back in January, telling Bloomberg that it wanted to keep the show somewhere between 150,000 to 160,000 people, due in no small part to the strain it puts on hotels, taxis, and other parts of the city during that week in January. As a result, it planned a separate show in China, which takes place in Shanghai later this month.
While notable for addressing the terror-filled fever dream that becomes most of the Las Vegas Convention Center once the crowds descend, it's worth noting that much of the conference's bread and butter business dealings take place elsewhere in the city, and can involve people who never set foot on the sprawling show floor. Companies hold briefings with the press, analysts, and conduct other business at nearby hotels, often before the official start of the show. That doesn't mean deals aren't made on pillow-soft carpets of the Convention Center though.
There's been talk of limits before
As CNET notes, the need to add limits is noteworthy given the pressure it was once under to grow its attendance. The economic downturn of 2008 trimmed the show's numbers, which stirred worries about the show's long-term viability. That was compounded by companies like Microsoft pulling out of the show to hold its own events on the side, much like Apple began doing with Macworld in 2008. At the time of the dip though, the CEA said it might simply keep the show at the smaller size, something that did not turn out to be the case.
Despite the fresh warning, Chupka says the CEA won't "turn qualified attendees away at the door." Instead, the group says it will "refine" how it picks who comes, which means tough times for next year's 676 misfits. We also don't have to worry about our own Ross Miller getting on the list, because he never left: