Microsoft Corp. is pulling out of the International Consumer Electronics Show, the largest trade show in the Americas. It’s joining Apple in saying that it prefers to put on its own events when the time is right to show off its products.
Microsoft said the next show, to be held Jan. 9-12 in Las Vegas, will be the last show at which it has a booth or the CEO delivers the customary kick-off speech.
Company founder Bill Gates delivered keynote speeches at the show for 11 straight years. Current CEO Steve Ballmer has delivered the speech for the past three shows and will present his last next month.
The software company has been one of the biggest U.S. supporters of the annual event, which gathered nearly 150,000 people this year. Originally focused on living-room electronics, the show has become the big annual U.S. event for all consumer technology after the demise of big computer-focused shows such as Comdex.
Microsoft says it will continue to use CES as a place to connect to customers, but it won’t have a booth because its product milestones don’t align with the show’s January timing.
At the upcoming show, Ballmer is scheduled to speak about the Windows 8 operating system. But the software isn’t expected to be ready until late next year, so computer makers won’t have any real Windows 8 products at the show.
“They’re not cooked yet. So he’s going to be stuck trying to present a bunch of stuff that will be months away from being ready,” said technology industry analyst Rob Enderle.
Apple doesn’t participate in trade shows at all after pulling out of the Macworld Conference & Expo after 2009.
The Consumer Electronics Association, which organizes CES, said it has tremendous demand for invitations to hold keynote speeches, and it has already received feelers from companies that want to rent for the 2013 show the space where Microsoft usually has its booth.