At its core CEDIA EXPO has always been about relationship building and peer-to-peer networking. And while high show attendance enhances that experience, the measure of EXPO’s success should not be based solely on numbers. I believe that our annual convention still plays a vital role in our industry’s longevity and that its current challenges are simply a reflection of the evolving nature of our business.
Though the pathway to my over-booked appointment schedule at CEDIA EXPO was rarely crowded, most of the booths I visited were actually quite busy with owners and top-level sales people from veteran integration companies. I heard a complaint or two about low turnout, but mostly I was told that traffic had been good or great at various booths.
For me the bigger story was what type of trade show CEDIA EXPO has become in recent years. Once primarily an AV or home theater event, CEDIA EXPO has morphed into a “solutions provider” show. Speaker manufacturers and video projector companies remain important participants in EXPO, but the overarching theme of the event is now about fixing problems that seem to be inherent in even the best of new technologies and, of course, figuring out ways to get disparate products to play nicely together in a large integrated system.
My dad, a high school teacher with an everyman’s fascination with consumer electronics, no longer sees CEDIA EXPO as the cool place where he can ogle new TVs and spectacular home theater displays. He still enjoys showing up for a half a day to pick up a free screwdriver or flashlight, but the thrill is definitely gone for him, and that’s just fine. CEDIA EXPO is not designed for consumers or even the consumer press. Our trade show, which was once more like a mini CES, has changed into a true “trade show,” in that in caters to a “trade” rather than massmarket sensibilities.
It’s the role of our trade to find robust home networking technologies and reliable ways to extend digital audio and video signals over long distances throughout a house. And more and more it’s also about understanding where wireless AV technologies are a good fit for a client, figuring out the best ways to store and access troves of digital content, and how best to trigger home automation through smartphoneinspired features such as voice recognition and near-field communication. And, of course, it’s still about providing the most over-the-top entertainment experience possible in the home.
Our industry has changed and CEDIA EXPO is changing too. But our annual trade show has always been about making consumer electronics work together better. That’s more true now than ever before.