GM, Google, Lenovo, Intel, T-Mobile, AT&T, Meta, Twitter, Amazon, TikTok, Pinterest and now Microsoft. The software giant just became the latest big name to announce that it will no long be attending CES in-person in less than two weeks’ time.
“The health and well-being of our employees is our ultimate priority,” the company said in a statement provided to TechCrunch. “After reviewing the latest data on the rapidly evolving COVID environment, Microsoft has decided not to participate in-person at CES 2022. We will continue with our digital CES plans on both the Microsoft Partner Innovation Experience and Automotive Press Kit, where we’ll highlight our partners’ newest devices, solutions, and innovations. We look forward to continuing to participate remotely.”
What’s been billed as a return to form for the consumer electronics industry following nearly two years of virtual shows has quickly been losing steam over the past week, as concerns around the omicron variant — coupled with a potential holiday travel spike — continue to mount.
CES’ governing body, the CTA, remains steadfast in its decision to continue the physical show, as planned. Last night, the organization reached out to TechCrunch with a new comment from its president, Gary Shapiro, following fast on the heels of Google and General Motors’ rapid announcements:
Over 2200 companies are confirmed to participate in person at CES 2022 in Las Vegas. Our focus remains on convening the tech industry and giving those who cannot attend in person the ability to experience the magic of CES digitally. CES 2022 will provide an opportunity for companies from around the world, both large and small, to launch products, build brands and form partnerships. Given CES’ comprehensive health measures — vaccination requirement, masking and availability of COVID-19 tests — coupled with lower attendance and social distancing measures, we are confident that attendees and exhibitors can have a socially distanced but worthwhile and productive event in Las Vegas, or while experiencing it online.
An earlier statement from the company offered two days prior noted that backouts had only impacted roughly 7% of its exhibitor space. The CTA has yet to offer an updated figure, in light of some rapid extractions by big name companies, along with smaller startups that have opted for a similar abundance of caution.
A number of major companies currently appear poised to continue their in-person participation, including, Samsung, LG, BMW, Qualcomm and Sony.