It's official: CES, the largest technology exhibition in the world, will present the latest digital gadgets in 2021 virtually. The Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which is organizing the event, has announced that the in-person event will be canceled.
CES 2021 is scheduled for January 6-9 in Las Vegas. Every year, the event for technology fans attracts nearly 100,000 visitors from all over the world. Journalists, investors and fans crowd on the show floor to discover the latest gadgets and robots. That will be different at this edition, because the organization decided to cancel the trade show to protect participants from the coronavirus outbreak. It will be replaced by a fully digital event.
The new format will allow participants to hear from technology innovators, see cutting-edge technologies and the latest product launches, and engage with global brands and startups from around the world.
"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 Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA. “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."
Big news?— CES (@CES) July 28, 2020
CES 2021 is going all-digital! Get ready for a new immersive experience where you’ll have a front row seat to the action https://t.co/IzmHDpIu1Y
CES 2022 is, at the moment, still planned to be an in-person event in Las Vegas.
Will CES succeed where other major trade shows failed?
Whether large tech companies, that traditionally make their big announcements during CES, are in favor of the digital format is still the question. E3, the largest gaming fair in the world, also suffered the same fate. Both Sony and Microsoft would present their new consoles at E3, but both decided that they did not need an umbrella organisation to do it digital and organised a digital event themselves. Samsung is also launged new devices without going to IFA.
The Geneva Internasional Motor Show, one of the largest car exhibitions in the world, also had to be on the sideline. Although the motor show was canceled, the announcements of major car brands continued. Sometimes via a live stream, sometimes via a self-organized event for journalists and influencer. For example, Bentley opted for an intimate presentation of a new model. Starting in London, they drove with 7 Bentleys along some whiskey tastings to finish at an abandoned airport for the ultimate test drive. Various media suggest that car manufacturers may be tired of the classic car salons. A personalized live experience can be an alternative.
Moreover, it is difficult for companies to stand out on gigantic trade shows. This in turn opens up opportunities for slightly smaller niche fairs and conferences. Start-ups, small and medium-sized companies do need the power of a central event where their target group is present. At the events where the big boys do not compete against each other, they can draw attention.