Samsung Takes the Spotlight as CES Becomes Truly Global

LAS VEGAS (Los Angeles Times/MCT) -

For a corpse, the International Consumer Electronics Show was pretty lively.

The 2013 trade show, which ended a four-day run Friday, attracted a record 3,250 exhibitors and was on pace to match last year’s 156,000 in attendance despite being pronounced all but dead before it started.

The reason for the grim diagnosis by some pundits and analysts was simple. Many of the most influential tech companies in the world didn’t officially participate: Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp., Google Inc., Facebook Inc., Amazon.com Inc.

Although this year’s show won’t be remembered for any ground-shaking innovations or jaw-dropping product launches, it did highlight several ways the global technology industry has evolved. From the rise of Samsung Electronics Co. to the decline of 3-D, the show still offered several important insights.

The South Korean company is now the leading seller of smartphones and has emerged as one of Apple’s key rivals for mobile supremacy. The company’s pre-show news conference Monday easily drew the biggest line of journalists while its keynote show, which included a guest appearance by former President Bill Clinton, was also impressive.

“Samsung owned the show,” technology analyst Rob Enderle said.

And when the trade show floor opened Tuesday, Samsung’s gigantic booth showcasing its broad range of digital products also seemed to tower over other exhibitors. The display even prompted Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes to publish a note to investors suggesting Apple should perhaps rethink its decision not to attend the show.

“The Samsung booth at this year’s show was one of the most crowded and impressive – and the comparison with Apple was palpable in every corner,” he wrote. “This year we couldn’t help thinking more than a few times vs. years past, ‘Why doesn’t Apple do this?’”

The high-profile trade show also gave floundering companies a chance to lay out their plans and assure the public that things would get back on track.

Executives from BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. met with reporters to promote the company’s long-delayed BlackBerry 10 operating system. The Canadian company is in desperate need of a hit after losing share in the U.S. and other crucial markets to Apple Inc.’s iPhone and smartphones running Google Inc.’s Android operating system.

Two new phones running BlackBerry 10 will debut Jan. 30. During a demonstration of one of the phones, Richard Piasentin, Research in Motion’s U.S. managing director, showed off a full touch-screen device with front- and rear-facing cameras, HD video, better screen resolution than the iPhone 5 and a faster browser.