CES 2020 Kicks Off With an Unlikely Participant: Apple

LAS VEGAS—There’s a shift in the air, a raw tension breaking through the hazy cigarette smoke and throbbing hangovers that usually occupy the Vegas Strip as thousands of attendees descend on the city for CES.

Today is the second media preview day before CES 2020 officially kicks off on Tuesday, with programming from several unexpected companies and officials, most notably Apple. The tech giant usually opts not to participate in official CES programming in lieu of making its own splashy announcements at its own events.

Apple’s senior director of global privacy, Jane Horvath, is scheduled to appear onstage Tuesday afternoon as part of a panel discussion tackling consumer privacy, alongside Facebook’s vice president of public policy and chief privacy officer for policy Erin Egan, and Rebecca Slaughter, commissioner for the Federal Trade Commission.

Apple has done cheeky stunts in previous years to make its presence known without actually being at the world’s largest tech show, like last year when it took out an ad near the Strip to troll its competitors.

Consumer privacy is expected to be among the major trends at this year’s CES, along with connected TV devices, the Olympics and, as the U.S. heads into the 2020 presidential election, politics.

The Consumer Technology Association, which puts on CES, received a fair bit of criticism for having Ivanka Trump, an adviser to her father, President Trump, on-stage to discuss jobs. On Sunday, CTA defended its decision through an outside PR agency it retained.

“Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump leads the White House efforts on job creation and economic growth through workforce development, skills training and entrepreneurship—and she will address them directly at CES 2020,” according to a statement. “She successfully spearheaded the effort to get major companies to commit to re-skilling American workers for new jobs.”

Other keynote speakers expected to take place at CES 2020 include executives from Samsung, Delta and short-form video service Quibi.

As shuttle buses, sidewalks and slot machines become more crowded with attendees, the effect on the local atmosphere is rearing its head. “I love CES,” a police officer joked to his partner Sunday evening as they walked out of a casino bar.

Editor’s note: Sara Jerde is reporting at CES 2020 as part of a program sponsored by the CTA.

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