CES 2023

I was walking through the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center today, taking in all of the insanity of CES 2023 when I approached the back side of the enormous Samsung booth. And what I found was, well, stunning.

It was nothing. A vast expanse of nothing. Just a big empty space with carpet and air, bounded by the back side of the Samsung booth on the far side and Samsung-branded belt stanchions around the other three sides.

A few small empty spaces aren't unusual at CES. Sometimes a spot doesn't sell. Sometimes a company backs out at the last minute, or they fold and simply don't exist anymore to fill that space that they already paid for. But those spaces usually aren't much bigger than a 60' x 60' area. And sometimes CES will even fill that area with a few chairs and tables for tired convention goers to take a rest.

But this, this was unlike anything I'd seen in person. CES 2022 had a lot of empty spots like this, due to the spike in COVID Delta-variant infections in early 2022 leading to a lot of attendees cancelling, so that was understandable. But this year's CES was back a full power and capacity, with 100,000 people coming to the show. Empty spots weren't nearly as common as last year or in 2021. Which made this huge area, roughly 1/4 of the space Samsung had reserved, stand out. I didn't have my tape measure on me, but some back-of-the-napkin math points to an area roughly 250 deep and 400 feet across. That's probably around $100,000 in just rented convention center floor space.

Granted, for Samsung and all the investment they put into their CES booth, $100,000 is a drop in the bucket. But this much empty space is still very conspicuous. Companies like Samsung are planning their CES booth space months or even years in advance. And Samsung is definitely a company that has more than enough product to fill this space. A lot of what they had on display wasn't even new, so they could've filled this space with something.

Unless their plans fell apart at the last minute. Despite the still-massive booth space that Samsung did occupy, their announcements this year were pretty low key. They are striving for eco-conscious products and systems, they're rolling out new Matter-based and SmartThings smart home products, and of course some new TVs that are iterative improvements over last year's models. Nothing ground-shaking.

All of which makes me wonder... was there supposed to be something here? Something that Samsung pulled at the last minute and rather than restructure their booth they just opted to lop off the area that would've been dedicated to the canceled thing?