CTA, the show organizers behind the United States’ largest consumer electronics show, today announced that CES 2021 will be an “all-digital experience” next January, and will have no physical component amid concerns of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
A digital version of the show is said to kick off between January 6-9, 2021, and 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,” CTA says in a press statement.
“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.”
Per year, the show typically packs in more than 250 conference sessions and hosts 170,000+ attendees from across the world, basically taking over the entire Las Vegas strip for the week. Although the conference spaces strewn about the town’s lavish casinos are impressively large, it’s normal to find yourself shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow attendees.
CES 2021’s cancellation follows a string of similar cancellations, although it’s one of the first major shows taking place in 2021 to do so. Mobile World Congress was one of the first to go ‘all-digital’ in February 2020, followed by Game Developers Conference (GDC) in March, E3 in June, and Gamescom in August, the massive German games expo. Facebook’s Oculus Connect 7 is also going digital.
With the United States sitting at the epicenter of the pandemic now, it’s unlikely large format shows will be held there for the foreseeable future, provided a vaccine is developed and administered broadly among the world’s population.