Don't think Apple is not at CES. They are there, everywhere. You can't see them, but 250 stealth Apple employees are at CES 2012. They are not there to show things. They are there to voraciously analyze the competition.
Paid Content's Tom Krazit bumped into none other than Greg Joswiak, head of iOS product marketing for Apple:
"A common misconception about Apple is that the company doesn't pay attention to the competition and remains aloof from what's happening in the rest of the industry." Sure, paying attention is one thing. All companies pay attention. All companies send scouts to other companies' booths and events. But sending a small army—according to Elgan, Apple registered 250 employees for the show—to comb the halls at CES is a lot more than just paying attention.
So yes, Apple may ignore CES for show and tell. But they are not ignoring what's cooking in Vegas. They are very interested in it. To see what's hot, what's wrong, where everyone else thinks things are going. If you are at CES, look into their badges.