CEA Launches Digital Downtown

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) announced that it will launch "a new consumer technology event," Digital Downtown (D2), 'to showcase the latest electronic lifestyle and workstyle products to residents and employees of Mahattan's Financial District." D2, which will be held from June 12–14 at the Winter Garden of the World Financial Center, will be open to the public, unlike the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

The CEA's Ryan Strowger said that it was too early to name the participants in the event, since it was only announced last week, but Digital Downtown's website lists the prices of sponsorship in the event, which range from $9750 for a 10' by 10' booth to $45,000 for a 20' by 20' booth with banner space in the main hall. One $75,000 Signature Sponsorship is available for an exhibitor who wants naming rights to an event.

What do exhibitors get for that? According to the D2 website, access to "the financial capital of the world, where international brands are made and markets are driven. It is the home to a concentrated buying audience of luxury items as well as titans of today's stock, equity, and international investment markets. Digital Downtown makes it fast and easy for these market influencers to buy and explore today's new consumer technologies. With an average HH income of $155,000—triple the national average—the workers in Lower Manhattan represent the single largest concentration of personal wealth in NYC. The Financial District is the third-largest work community in America, and it features an increasing population of upscale residents as well as tourists who are there to pay tribute at Ground Zero."

Our interpretation? The show will be heavy on road-warrior bling and relatively light on high-end audio, which does not show well in convention-center conditions. On the other hand, the CEA's decision to display consumer electronics in an upscale venue next door to Wall Street, has a lot going for it. One of the biggest challenges faced by high-end audio is that a large proportion of its potential audience doesn't even know it exists. Events like D2 potentially could introduce folks with disposable income to the concept of better.

At least, that's the theory.