It was, I admit, slightly strange not feeling the extreme anxiety over the holidays at having to return to Las Vegas this past year. But nature is healing. Vaccinations have begun rolling out in much of the world, and CES is ready to return.
The massive consumer electronic show’s governing board, the CTA, announced this morning that the event will return to the City of Second Chances January 5-8 (with media days eating into that post New Year’s glow starting on the 3rd). Per a press release, roughly 1,000 companies have committed to returning.
The list thus far includes, Amazon, AMD, AT&T, Daimler AG, Dell, Google, Hyundai, IBM, Intel, Lenovo, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics and Sony. Given how the past year has gone, however, it’s important to note that everything is always subject to change.
“Our customers are enthusiastic about returning to a live event in Las Vegas,” CTA EVP Karen Chupka said in a release tied to the news. “Global brands and startups have shared that plans are already well underway and are committed to sharing the magic of an in-person CES with even more people from around the world.”
Of course, things will very much feel up in the air until our respective planes have landed at the Las Vegas Airport (and I may or may not still be wearing a mask). And the CTA is quick to note that there will continue to be a digital element. That will almost certainly continue to be an important aspect of these shows moving forward. While it seemed unlikely that the pandemic would kill trade shows altogether (particularly hardware trade shows), like many things in life, there are some aspects that will simply never be the same.
In 2020, the CTA escaped the wrath of COVID-19 just under the wire, roughly two months before the virus really began doing damage stateside. CES’s first (and, for the foreseeable future, only) all-virtual event was greeted with…mixed results. Anecdotally, the experience left a lot to be desired — perhaps understandable, given the sheer size and breadth of a show like this. Now that the infrastructure is in place, however, it would be silly to abandon it altogether — especially after the past year left many questioning their attendance of these sorts of events in general.
As for the 2021 shows — a number, including MWC and IFA in Europe — are still planning to go forward, with enhanced safety precautions. The size and scope of these shows, however, remain in flux, as a number of companies have announced their intention to only attend the show virtually.