CES 2015: Samsung booth dominates – where is Apple?

CES 2015 is back in action, and centers around the usual suspects. Row after row, hall after hall features one tech company after another showing off its latest wares, or sometimes more accurately, the products it hopes it manages to ship before year’s end. As per custom, the Samsung booth is massive and serves as a de facto mecca for the tech geeks in attendance. But as is the case each year, the question looms: where is Apple?

Apple has long avoided the Consumer Electronics Show. In past decades, Steve Jobs would give a rival keynote address at Macworld Expo the week before, attempting to one-up CES on his own terms. Eventually Apple bailed on Macworld in favor of holding its own one-off press events whenever it had a new product ready to launch, which was almost never January, as it made little sense to launch consumer tech products just after the holiday season.

But with Macworld now having been retired entirely, Apple has to at least consider becoming a vendor at CES. Its booth would be one of the biggest draws by default. But the trade show is not quite the audience which Apple targets. Survey the attendees at CES 2015 and you’ll find that the vast majority of attendees, whether they be journalists or vendors or engineers, tend to be the kind of tech geeks who fundamentally disagree with Apple’s consumer-first product philosophy.

CES is the rare instance where you’ll see significantly more Android phones in the hands of people than iPhones. And even among those carrying an Apple smartphone, you’ll see far more 6 Plus models than iPhone 6 models, the precise opposite of what you’d find in the real world.

An Apple booth at CES 2015 might only serve to invite negative press from the Android-leaning journalists in attendance, who would use the occasion as an excuse to declare that Apple is “out of ideas” if it isn’t willing to introduce a new product in January, or to report that the Samsung booth was a bigger draw whether it is or not.

CES is, by definition, enemy territory for Apple. There’s a reason the company opts to hold its own events instead. But sooner or later, enemy territory has to be invaded in order to be conquered. Could we finally see an Apple booth at CES 2016 and Tim Cook as the keynote speaker? Stranger things have happened. But don’t bey money on it.