2016 promises to be a big year for Tech entrepreneurs and start-ups, with wearables and the internet of things likely to be the fields where we see the most progress. Other areas where expectation will be high and new ideas under scrutiny will be the imperfect science of mobile marketing, targeted ads in general and how to accurately measure customer reach, big data analytics (I’m expecting a backlash here) and, hopefully, the rise and rise of high speed broadband internet access.
But where will be the best places to discover, play with and exhibit new products this year? Below are 5 events that I believe represent both the biggest, most reputable or Tech star-studded events to attend this year, plus some of the fastest growing or more underground gatherings, starting, of course, with Las Vegas!
CES 2016 Las Vegas 6-9 Jan
An event that attracts over 150,000 consumer technology enthusiasts, with nearly 4,000 exhibitors and 82% of Americas Fortune 500 companies represented, CES Las Vegas kicks off today with its traditional press day, featuring keynote speeches from Boo-Keun Yoon, president and CEO of Samsung Electronics, and Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman and Head of Mercedes Benz cars. Their respective speeches, subtitled “Possibilities”, and “Freedom”, precede the opening party which is being held at Marquee Nightclub and Dayclub.
The event proper begins on Tuesday when the show floor, which covers 2 million sq. ft. across 3 locations, Tech East, West and ARIA, opens to the public. C Space at ARIA , new for 2016, is aimed at brand marketers, advertising agencies, digital communications and social media. Tech East covers audio, automotive, gaming, wireless and imaging, whilst Tech West is set aside for decision makers, distributors, press, and buyers.
As you would expect from any conference staged in Las Vegas, CES 2016 promises all the fun of the fair; any journalist worth their salt (excluding this one!) will be there trying to discover the next big thing, and anyone not exhibiting will feel ashamed not to be hawking their wares somewhere in the vicinity. The sheer scale of the event and its glamourous nature, however, perhaps precludes the truly innovative from being discovered here. From the research I have done, CES Las Vegas does not exactly set the tone for the rest of the Tech year, but it remains a must attend for most of the world’s media. 220 start-ups are said to be heading there; what a boost it would be for them to find the sponsors or investment they need so early in the year!
Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2-5 Mar
Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote address last year, in which he discussed Facebook’s controversial recent acquisition of Oculus Rift gave this conference all the publicity it needed to claim to be the biggest mobile event on the calendar in 2016. There will be almost 2,000 exhibitors, keynotes, panel discussions, and thought leadership workshops, as well as the Global Mobile Awards programme, recognising innovation and notable achievements in the mobile space.
Last year there were 82,000 attendees and this year’s event has already been planned to the smallest detail. Fira Gran Via is the venue, with selected events taking place 4km away at Fira Montjuic. There are 9 exhibition halls altogether, 98,000 sq. meters of space! Expect to see all the major mobile manufacturers and service providers; Nokia, Samsung, Ericsson, Huawei, Sony and, one assumes, Apple, although strangely no mention is made of the world’s largest company in the marketing material available.
For developers, the App planet exhibition is a significant highlight with networking, exhibitions and a conference all on offer, and at the other end of the spectrum, there is a Ministerial Programme aimed at senior government officials and telecommunications regulators. 139 delegations were present in 2014, plus 22 international institutions. Aside from that, the list of keynote speakers is also impressive; Founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales, Charles Scharf, CEO of Visa, and Ken Hu, Deputy Chairman and Rotating CEO at Huawei are 3 that catch the eye.
Expect a gargantuan conference and a fantastic networking opportunity, but innovation in the mobile market has slowed recently, and the Mobile World Congress, despite its size and efforts to cover all conceivable bases, may struggle to top the prestige of last year’s event. One to attend, provided you know exactly what you are looking for.
Tech Crunch Disrupt New York May 4-6
Tech Crunch Disrupt events are best known for promoting start-ups and disruptive founders, probably what you would expect from a leading source of start-up and Tech news. The little guy will doubtless be well represented, but everyone starts small so expect some big name founders to make themselves available for fireside chats, workshops, and media interviews, and expect a little controversy too. Tech Crunch journalists sometimes ask tough questions and are not afraid to get confrontational, which is what makes the event, which takes place in The Hammerstein Ballroom at The Manhattan Centre, unlike many others