This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is over. The stalls have been dismantled, the media circus has left town, and the product designers are already working on their newest gadgets for next year’s edition.
But what exactly is CES? How did it become the most exciting tech show in the world? And if you missed this year’s show, where else can you go to satiate your tech itch between now and next year’s show?
In this piece, we’ll explain why CES is so great before taking a look at what other shows might interest you.
What Is CES?
In short, CES is an international electronics and technology trade show which is held in Las Vegas every year (with a sister show, CES Asia, being held in Shanghai). It runs for four days (the 2016 event ran from January 6 to January 9) and it attracts around 170,000 visitors over its duration.
The first event was held in 1967 and was a spinoff from the Chicago Music Show, which up until then had been the world’s main event for exhibiting consumer electronics. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, different formats were tested, with the show being held twice a year from 1978 to 1994 and being taken “on tour” around different cities in the early 1990s.
It wasn’t until 1998 that the current format fell into place, with a solitary winter event being held annually at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
It has developed a reputation for being the event at which several tech companies debut their products for the first time. For example, we saw the VCR for the first time at the 1970 show, we saw the first DVD at the 1996 event, and the first Xbox was revealed at the 2001 edition.
This year’s event saw more than 3,600 companies in attendance, along with over 200 fringe conferences that discussed the latest issues across the whole technology industry.
TED Conference: February 15 to 19
Most of you readers are probably aware of TED Talks, the hugely popular and informative seminars that cover a wide range of interesting topics.
What might be less well-known is that TED also hosts an annual conference in Vancouver, with each year’s event being given a specific theme or topic to discuss. The event for 2016 will be about “Dreams”.
The conference promises to dedicate itself to the “great feats of imagineering, invention, innovation… and the courageous dreamers who can bring us with them on their journey.” As always, it will be all about the storytelling, with a healthy dose of tech thrown in.
CeBIT: March 14 to 18
CeBIT, held in Hannover every March, is the world’s largest computer expo in terms of both companies attending and people attending. To illustrate, the 2015 event saw a massive 335,000 visitors come through its doors.
The 2016 event will focus on the topics of “d!conomy” (the digitization of business and society), security and privacy, the “Internet of Everything”, and disruptive technologies.
The cheap “early bird” tickets for this year have already sold out. If you want to attend, you’ll need to splash out €600 before February 29.
The Next Web Conference: May 26 to 27
The Next Web Conference started life in 2006 at the same time as its parent company launched their website.
Headquartered in The Netherlands, a two-day event has traditionally been held in Amsterdam each spring followed by a one-day event in both New York and Sao Paulo later in the year. This year, the New York event is scheduled for November 18, but there won’t be a Sao Paulo event.
The conferences focus on start-up tech companies and attract around 20,000 visitors. They’ve quickly developed a reputation for success, with Waze, Rapportive, and Shutl as examples of companies that owe some of their success to the event.
This year’s Amsterdam conference sees several high profile speakers, including Steve Huffman (co-founder and CEO of Reddit), Werner Vogels (Vice President and CTO of Amazon), and Zach Klein (co-founder of Vimeo).
Techweek: Late-Spring or Early-Summer
Techweek is a relative newcomer to the world of tech expos and shows as this year marks only its fifth anniversary.
After starting life in Chicago, it has already developed into a week-long event held in cities around the United States and Canada. In 2016, it will once again visit Chicago, along with Detroit, Toronto, Kansas City, New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and Dallas.
Each event aims to help and support local technology hubs and start-ups, and thus each city’s conference has a very localized feel.
QCon: June 13 to 17
QCon is focused on software and aims to attract technical team leads, architects, engineering directors, and project managers. There are two events this year: the New York event in June and the London event in March.
Some of the talks scheduled in this year’s two events include “Taking Java to the Next Level”, “Browser as a Platform (Realizing HTML5)”, “Modern CS in the Real World”, and “Data Science and Machine Learning Methods”.
E3 Expo: June 14 to 16
The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3 Expo) is an annual event that has become the global leader for anyone interested in gaming, gamification, and tech-based entertainment.
Held in Los Angeles since its launch in 1995, the expo typically attracts around 55,000 attendees and is a way for the world’s leading gaming companies to showcase their new games and products. Industry giants such as Microsoft, Electronic Arts, Nintendo, Ubisoft, Sony, Oculus, and 2K Games all had stalls at the 2015 show.
Unfortunately, it is an industry-only event, and anyone who wants to attend must have a verifiable connection to the video game sector, but you can usually watch from home through live streams. Last year, for example, IGN provided live coverage on their website.
MacIT: Summer, No Dates Yet
Since the Macworld/iWorld conference was put on hiatus by its management group, MacIT has become the main conference for people who work with Apple’s technology in the IT sector.
The three day event in 2015 had more than 70 speakers and 40 sessions, along with endless information about app development, security, Apple devices, and directory services.
The dates for the 2016 event have not yet been released, but it is typically held in early/mid summer.
Black Hat US: July 30 to August 4
Black Hat has become the most technical and relevant global information security event series in the world.
It started as a single annual conference in Las Vegas in 1997 but is now held in several locations around the world. 2016 will see additional events scheduled in Singapore (March) and London (November). In the past, events have been held in Barcelona, Amsterdam, Abu Dhabi, and Tokyo.
The conference is split in two parts: “Black Hat Briefings” and “Black Hat Trainings”. The training is offered by some of the world’s largest tech security companies, while the briefings focus on the hot topics of the day.
Gartner ITxpo: Throughout the Year
Advertized as “the world’s most important gathering of CIOs and Senior IT executives”, the three-day long events examine the trends and influences that will impact on the world of technology over the coming years.
There are eight events around the world, most of which are held in the autumn. It will attract an estimated 24,000 attendees per event.
This year sees the conference travel to Dubai (March 1 to 3), Cape Town (September 26 to 28), Tokyo (October 5 to 7), Orlando (October 16 to 20), Sao Paulo (October 24 to 27), Gold Coast (October 24 to 27), Barcelona (November 6 to 10), and Goa (November 15 to 18).
What Did We Miss?
There are so many conferences and expos that it’s almost impossible to cover every single one of them. You can get in touch and let us know your thoughts via the comments section below.
Which expos are you planning to attend this year? Which is your favorite? Have you been to any of the ones we mentioned? Would you recommend them?