And while this year's CES in Las Vegas, already the largest trade show in the U.S., is expected to draw a near-record 150,000 attendees, plenty of attention will be paid to what -- and who -- is not in attendance.
Some of the most-popular electronics products in recent memory -- Android smartphones, Apple iPhones and iPads, Amazon.com's Kindles -- have hit the market without using CES as a launching pad. Apple has rarely been an official participant and will again be absent, although iPad- and iPhone-related products will be abundant.
This will be the first annual gathering without Microsoft playing a major role in nearly two decades. The software giant, which released its Windows 8 operating system in the fall, will not have a booth, nor will CEO Steve Ballmer be a keynote speaker -- something the company has done since then-CEO Bill Gates' first CES keynote in 1998. In the keynote slot this year is Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs, a signal of the importance that mobile technology plays at the show.
On hand, but not making any major announcements -- with a single meeting room each and no booth -- are Amazon and Google, two more companies behind many of the most-successful gadgets brought to market in recent years. Not registered: Facebook.
Still, many of those companies will have representatives participating in panel discussions and meetings -- and scouting the competition. Microsoft, for example, is sponsoring the show's innovations design and engineering showcase.
Despite some high-profile holdouts, the show goes on.
"A lot of manufacturers like Samsung and Philips and Panasonic will relax, and they won't have to be in Microsoft's shadow for...
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