An open letter to the organizers of CES:

I'm sure I can't be the first one to have had this idea. Why not open CES to the public on, say the two last days of the show, Saturday and Sunday? It's a well-known fact that certain enthusiast consumers with acquaintances or friends in the industry sneak in as it is. Presently, they're not openly identified as consumers which becomes confusing to exhibitors thinking they're dealing with a retailer when they're not.

Las Vegas is the ideal destination for a consumer-oriented show because of its night life and world-class entertainment. CES is the largest show of its kind in the world, bigger than COMDEX now. It's a once-a-year opportunity to meet everyone who's anyone in one convenient location. (You can even meat everyone who's anyone in an entertainment sector of more adult focus.)

Why not kill two birds with one stone? Run a trade-only and open-to-the-public event in direct succession back to back. This would have the fringe benefit of allowing exhibitors to sell display goods on site, at a discount perhaps for being used which makes it attractive to the buyers. It also enables the exhibitors to partially or fully recoup their financial outlay of attending before returning home. Everyone would win.

As it stands now, end users who aren't formal trade or press members enter in disguise. Where there's a will there's a way. Then legalize and formally encourage their attendance and give HighEnd audio a much-needed boost. Though this year's figures of 140,000 look good on paper,
the technology-driven entries in the so-called "zoo" of the Convention Center apparently held far more appeal than the Alexis Park and neighboring T.H.E. Show in the St. Tropez. Both suffered less traffic than in years past. If we're really interested in opening the doors of HighEnd audio "to the masses" and make new converts, CES seems to be the ideal in-place scenario to do so. How about it, CEA? Call it The Las Vegas Open...