CES Unveiled Alongside the Paris Motor Show

To broaden the interest globally in the CES Las Vegas event, over the last few years, the CTA has held events in Europe, well in advance of the show, to promote it. The London event does not seem to have done well and so this year, the event was again in Paris and Amsterdam.

We were in Amsterdam for the IBC show a couple of weeks ago but it’s convenient to get to, so we were not sure which event to go to. However, the CTA ran the Paris event on one of the press days of the Paris Motor Show (Paris, Mondial de l’Auto), so we could cover both events with one trip, so we decided to go there, rather than Amsterdam. We assume that the English-speaking press went to Amsterdam as the press corps at the Paris event was almost totally Francophone. The exhibitors at the ‘tabletop’ event alongside the press briefing was also completely French companies – we didn’t spot a single major multinational. That’s unusual compared to the shows that we usually go to.

In the morning, there were sessions on the general encouragement of the technology business, but we focused on the topics that we thought would be most interesting to our readers and we covered the main ‘keynote’ talk on the market and the very good quality panel discussion on the developments in technology in the automotive area. We also managed to find a couple of display-related stories at the small table-top exhibition alongside.

One thing that was especially striking at the table-top event was the average age of the staff at the companies represented. Frankly, it would have been hard to find many over 40. The effect is to counter the widespread notion that France is a bad place for start-ups. The reality is that for younger people, there is a real appetite to build new businesses. I suspect that the lack of a really good VC environment around the start-ups is likely to be a limiting factor in how far you can get, which might be why older entrepreneurs that might have higher financial requirements weren’t there. However, you have to admire the courage and motivation of those trying and the support of the French government in trying to change the idea that you can’t develop innovative businesses in France.

Unfortunately, after the CES Unveiled event, we didn’t have as much time to get around the show as we would have liked. The show is also differently organised than most that we go to, which are for professionals, in the main. In the shows that we normally attend, the ‘Press days’ before the show are for special press events and conferences. However, in Paris, the press days are the times when the press normally goes around the show booths. As we didn’t realise this, we were at the show on a public day, and there were no spokespeople around, nor press representatives. That limited the usefulness of what we could get – a lesson learned for the future!
It’s always interesting to see who is not at the show and the standout for us this time was the VW brand. The group was widely represented, with Audi, Skoda, Seat and Porsche, but no Volkswagen brand.
We looked mostly at instrument clusters and centre consoles and another omission at the event was any promotion or demonstration of HUDs. Given that a member of staff of General Motors told us at CES a couple of years ago that in not that many years, all the instrument clusters are likely to be replaced by HUDs, the lack of emphasis seemed slightly strange.
The clear division between low end cars with single analogue clusters and the next step up with LCD-based displays seemed quite clear. The next step is to add significant centre displays, but, as far as we could tell, only Mercedes is really trying to show an apparently seamless single wide display.