[Updated below with statement from Consumer Electronics Association.] In a major twist for one of the technology industry’s largest annual events, Microsoft says the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show will be the last one where it delivers a keynote address and has a booth.
The company puts up a mammoth booth at the event in Las Vegas each January, and it has traditionally delivered the pre-show keynote, starting with Bill Gates back in the day and continuing with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in recent years. Microsoft will still have a booth this year and Ballmer will deliver the keynote on Jan. 9.
Microsoft made the announcement in a post this morning, saying it will continue to send representatives to the show to connect with others in the industry, “but we won’t have a keynote or booth after this year because our product news milestones generally don’t align with the show’s January timing.”
“As we look at all of the new ways we tell our consumer stories – from product momentum disclosures, to exciting events like our Big Windows Phone, to a range of consumer connection points like Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft.com and our retail stores – it feels like the right time to make this transition,” writes Frank Shaw, the company’s communications chief, in the post. “Microsoft has enjoyed a close to 20-year working relationship with the Consumer Electronics Association – and we look forward to working with CEA for many years to come.”
Apple doesn’t participate in the Consumer Electronics Show, and cited similar reasons in pulling out of the Macworld Expo three years ago.
Update, 10:53 a.m.: Here’s the full text of the statement sent to us by the Consumer Electronics Association …
In the fourteen years that we have invited Microsoft to deliver a keynote address at CES, the company has unveiled some great innovations, from operating systems to gaming platforms to mobile technologies, Both CEA and Microsoft have agreed that the time has come to end this great run, and so Microsoft will not have a keynote at the 2013 CES.
The International CES is widely recognized as the world’s best stage for technology debuts, and each year we experience incredible demand from the world’s leading technology companies for invitations to keynote at CES. We will announce our amazing lineup of keynoters for the 2013 CES beginning in the early summer of 2013.
Microsoft has also informed us that, although their plans for the 2013 CES are not yet finalized, they will not request the Central Hall exhibit space that they have used in past years. Given the huge success of the 2012 CES, with more than 1.8 million net square feet of exhibit space (the second largest show floor in our history) and more than 2,700 exhibitors, we have received expressions of interest for that space from the long waiting list for Central Hall exhibit space. Exhibitors will choose space for the 2013 CES during the 2012 show, and in past years available Central Hall exhibit space has sold out within hours.
Microsoft is an important member of CEA and we wish them all the best as they evolve their plans for new ways to tell consumer stories. We also look forward to their CES keynote on January 9, 2012.