CES 2021 to be an ‘online only’ show

As the coronavirus spread became a true worldwide pandemic, the first major technology show that had to be cancelled in 2020 was Mobile World Congress. Others quickly followed suit, with events now all being streamed online. The first major tech show of the calendar year, the Consumer Electronics Show(CES), is usually held the first week of January. In 2021 it will be an online only event, with the main stage being the major attraction.

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CES is the world’s largest electronics show, dominating the beginning of the year when it comes to tech announcements, product launches and news. The decision to move it to an online only experience has been a long time coming, but the organisers wanted to fully understand what the ramifications would be before confirming the decision.

“Amid the pandemic,” said CTA chief Gary Shapiro, “it’s just not possible to safely convene tens of thousands of people in Las Vegas in early January.” While they would have liked to hold the event as per usual, having previously said that they were expecting to take a number of extra precautions to enable the show to go ahead, it wasn’t work the risk anymore.

This comes after stories back in April hinted that the 2020 CES showcase may have been a hotbed for the virus that helped spread it – there were 182,000 attendees at the event in busy, tightly-packed conference areas with a lot of movement between the various booths. Many people weren’t wearing masks at the event, either.

As the world adjusts to this pandemic our new normal will be a lot of this. Massive events where people come from far and wide for a specific shared experience is going to be few and far between for some time to come. Even though we bemoan this fact, it’s probably the best for everyone involved.