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Consumer Electronics Show attendance may be sluggish

People walk Monday at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The convention floor opens Thursday.

Associated Press

People walk Monday at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The convention floor opens Thursday.

Speculation is intensifying that Apple Inc. will soon unveil a tablet-style gadget for consuming movies and other media.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple plans to show off the device later this month. The Journal says Apple fans may be able to get their hands on one in March. The newspaper says it is to have a 10-inch to 11-inch touch screen.

Analysts have predicted the gadget could cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000, with or without a cellular data subscription included.

Apple spokesman Steve Dowling says the company does not comment on rumors and speculation.

Associated Press

Electronics sales rebounded in the just-ended holiday season, but the industry's biggest event will still have the recession hanging over it. The International Consumer Electronics Show, which opens Wednesday, will be smaller than usual, with key products unveiled at prices that are far from extravagant.

Manufacturers will use the show in Las Vegas to trot out the devices they hope will keep consumers opening their wallets, despite high unemployment. TVs with 3-D displays, svelte laptops and e-book readers will be the hottest categories.

In the just-ended shopping season, revenue from U.S. electronics sales from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24 rose 5.9 percent from the same period of 2008, according to an estimate by MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse, which tracks all forms of payment.

So unlike last year, exhibitors were adding themselves to the lineup in the week before the show, said Jason Oxman, senior vice president at the Consumer Electronics Association, the trade association that organizes the Consumer Electronics Show.

"There's a great deal of enthusiasm leading into 2010 that just wasn't there in the 2009 show," he said.

The association expects 2,500 exhibitors and 110,000 attendees, roughly flat with last year but still down considerably from 2007, when 144,000 people came.

The event, which began in 1967, is now the main venue for audio and video giants like Panasonic, as well as such pillars of the computing world as Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Cisco Systems.

For the first time, e-book readers will have their own section of the show floor, with 23 exhibitors hoping to follow Amazon.com's Kindle to the mainstream.

Also, Skiff LLC and Sprint announced Monday that they will preview the Skiff Reader, the first e-reader optimized for newspaper and magazine content, at this year's event.

The Skiff reader is 11.5 inches in size diagonally and has a resolution of 1200 x 1600 pixels, said the companies' announcement. Skiff plans to have the Reader available for purchase later this year in more than 1,000 Sprint stores.

In other tech news, Google is expected to unveil its vision for how a mobile phone should be made and sold.

The company's catalyst for change apparently will be the Nexus One, the first phone designed by Google's engineers.

The first details about Google's plans for the phone are expected to emerge today during a press conference at the company's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters.

Consumer Electronics Show attendance may be sluggish 01/04/10 [Last modified: Monday, January 4, 2010 10:06pm]

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