Walking the show floor at CES this year it was clear that there were more people there than the last couple of years (and most of them seemed to be standing in front of the Microsoft stand watching other attendees play Kinect). The Intel, Motorola, Samsung, Sony, LG and Panasonic stands were also crowded all week, taxi and bus lines were far longer than last year, show rates at hotels sold out early in December and most restaurants had queues for tables again - which we hadn't seen since 2008.
Originally the Consumer Electronics Association predicted 126,000 attendees - the same as last year. But by Saturday, 140,000 people had already come through the door and although the count for Sunday isn't in yet, organisers from CEA that we spoke to today said the total could be close to 151,000 - which is even more than the record high of 150,000 in 2007, CES's biggest ever year.
The new individual CEA Tech Enthusiast memberships - which will allow consumers to try pre-production products, get discounts on some devices and pay to attend the last day of the show (otherwise reserved for trade members and the press) - are proving popular: we hear the CEA has already signed up 2,000 individuals.
In the US, it increasingly seems that the economy has split into two: the technology industry and everything else. A bumper year for CES bodes well for technology sales as well as for the hospitality business in Las Vegas.
Good news for attendees next year; CES 2012 will run from Tuesday to Friday, rather than Thursday to Sunday, so those of us who stick it out to the end of the show will get the weekend back (and more attendees are likely to stay all week and spread meetings our rather than rushing through them in the first two days).