CES boss slams content restrictions, talks of bumper 2011 CES

Gary Shapiro, the president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, the US trade association has criticised copyright issues for strangling the ‘watch anywhere’ ethos that has been technically do-able for some time.

“If you buy a movie you should be able to watch it elsewhere, portably or in you own home, but there’s a trade-off with piracy - these discussions are going on,” said Shapiro frustrated by the lack of faith in consumers by content producers not to instantly pirate content.

“Connecting people to their homes, entertainment and social circles is big story this week,” he told us. “We want three screens; TV, mobile phone and PC tablets, all with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or DLNA.”

“The TV will increasingly look like a smartphone,” he told Pocket-lint. “Yes, there is convergence - no question about it,” Shapiro says.

The CEA represents some 2,000 consumer electronics companies and When it comes to the CES, chief host Gary Shapiro is not a man given to understatement.

“This is the most exciting show in our history,” he proudly boasts to Pocket-lint.

Revealing to us that he expected around 20,000 new products to be unveiled across the 1.6 million square feet of CES 2011 - a 10 percent increase on the 2010 event - Shapiro stated that 2011 was the year of tablets (around 80 in total, he claimed), and broadband for new and existing devices.

Glossing over any rift with Apple, which not only avoids, but attempts to upstage (this year it was the launch of the Mac Store), Shapiro was keen to stress how the huge event in Las Vegas adapts to market demands.

The iLounge pavilion, which features all things Mac, has doubled in size since last year – iPhone 4 covers are everywhere (with Hello Kitty! patterns worryingly common) - and now has 200 exhibitors, while ‘lifestyle’ exercise gadgets are also on the rise.

Ironically, Las Vegas has slow broadband and few public WiFi networks, something that’s caused problems for both exhibitors attempting to demo their new ‘connected’ devices, and journalists filing copy.

As Verizon’s chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg talked-up the US telecom giant’s new 4G networks during Shapiro‘s speech, there were audible grumbles among journalists in audience trapped in a WiFi-free zone.

Shapiro has been busy promoting his first book, ‘The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream’, peppering his CES speech with references to the text - published this week. Its central message could be seen as a broadside against the Obama administration.

“Our industry’s ability to innovate has created jobs and grown the global economy, creating new markets and new industries,” said Shapiro. “The lesson of the book is that every country should have a strategy, just like any business. Every country has strengths and weaknesses and it’s best to plan and play-off - the challenge of politicians is that they do not focus on the long-term. If you focus on your long term you will reach your goals.”

In his keynote Shapiro also criticised the approach to free trade in the US: “We have not finalised one single trade agreement in the past two years while other countries have been busy bringing down trade barriers. Countries that trade with each other don’t go to war.”

Shapiro reconfirmed the central principles behind the CEA and its flagship event, the International CES. “As a trade organisation the CEA must do everything we can to foster innovation - the CES cause is the cause of innovation. Our primary objective isn’t to secure favours from government, but the long term health of the US economy.”