CES Announces Switch To All-Digital Format For 2021 Show


Consumer Electronics Show has today announced that their event planned for January 2021 will not be occurring as originally planned, switching instead to a digital format. It feels like they held off making this decision until they were absolutely sure it was the correct choice, but this is at least early enough that people intending to attend the event won’t have been finalizing their travel plans yet.

CES usually kickstarts the year, with product and technology announcements and showcases that set the tone for the rest of the year, with major industry players like Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, Lenovo, Sony, and others making announcements and demoing technology at the event.

We attended the Las Vegas show last year, and you can revisit all our coverage over here. It’s a shame we won’t get to take a trip there in January, but given the health risks inherent in international travel at this time, it’s perhaps for the best.

In a statement, President and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, Gary Shapiro, said the following:

"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. 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."

Given all the technology companies involved, it should be possible for them to run an online streaming event with minimal technical hiccups.

Some product launch schedules may have been impacted by the pandemic, but we would still expect most of the participants in CES to have news on the horizon, whether it’s new laptops, new PC components, or other new technologies, we’re sure there’s going to be interesting news from this digital event.

The lingering question is which is going to be the first major tech event to return to a regular physical event? Will Mobile World Congress in February go ahead as usual? Will Game Developers Conference be back on the calendar? SXSW? Computex? E3? Only time will tell, but with the inherent risks of mass gatherings of people, it’s going to be a decision that is weighing heavily on the minds of the respective organizers.

For CES, they say that it will be back to business in 2022, as Shapiro says:

“We plan to return to Las Vegas for CES 2022, combining the best elements of a physical and digital show.“

Let’s hope those plans work out.