CES 2021 Moving To All-Digital Format As COVID-19 Health Concerns Sideline Las Vegas Event

ces 2021
It’s official, folks: CES 2021 as we know it will not be an in-person event next January. Like many “physical” events that were supposed to take place during 2020 – Computex, E3, Google I/O, etc. – the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) pretty much had its hands tied due to the ongoing coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

That means for the first time ever, CES 2021 will be an online-only event. This is a dramatic departure for the show, which is held in Las Vegas every year and involves attendees visiting booths at the Las Vegas Convention Center and in various suites and conference halls at hotels spread along the Las Vegas strip. A total of 182,000 people attended CES 2020 in January, and no one knew at the time that it would be the last “large-scale” tech gathering for the year.

CES has always been a magnet for attention for the big names in the tech industry, but in recent years the show has taken on less of an importance. Many companies had branched out to hold their own events scattered throughout the year instead of making big product unveils in January alone. But the move to online-only is still going to send shockwaves through the consumer electronics market.

"Amid the pandemic and growing global health concerns about the spread of COVID-19, it's just not possible to safely convene tens of thousands of people in Las Vegas in early January 2021 to meet and do business in person,” said CTA President and CEO Gary Shapiro. “Technology helps us all work, learn and connect during the pandemic — and that innovation will also help us reimagine CES 2021 and bring together the tech community in a meaningful way. By shifting to an all-digital platform for 2021, we can deliver a unique experience that helps our exhibitors connect with existing and new audiences." 

This was the only logical conclusion that the CTA could come to for CES 2021, given that the world is still recovering from COVID-19 and the United States in particular is seeing a resurgence in cases in states like California, Florida, Arizona, and Texas. Bringing people from all across the globe to Las Vegas – even if the even were to be held five months from now as it usually is – would likely result in a toxic hellstew of activity for COVID-19.

With that being said, the CTA says that the all-digital format will include online keynotes and conferences; dynamic product showcases and live demos; along with live interactive meetings and roundtable discussions with key figures in the industry. 

Despite the setback for CES 2021 and uncertainty surrounding other in-person tech events for 2021, CTA is still planning to comeback to Las Vegas for CES 2022.

(Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)