CES 2022 exhibitors opting out over Omicron concerns, but CTA says the show will go on

Despite exits by a number of exhibitors, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) still seems determined to make CES 2022, scheduled for January 5 – 8, a live event. But how long that will last, in the face of Omicron-driven withdrawals, is anyone’s guess.

This week, T-Mobile, Amazon, Meta (Facebook’s parent), Twitter, Pinterest, and iHeartRadio are among the organizations that have pulled out. In addition, the company said in a statement that T-Mobile’s chief executive officer, Mike Sievert, will no longer be presenting a keynote either in-person or virtually, although the company said it will continue to be an event sponsor.

Other big players such as Samsung and General Motors are reportedly monitoring the situation; should they and other companies like Intel, LG, Panasonic, Nikon, and Canon back out, CTA may have to re-evaluate its plans. However, Adweek reported that CES said it was adding exhibitors as of Monday, with about 2,100 still attending, and on Tuesday Reuters reported that Qualcomm, Sony Electronics, and Alphabet Inc’s Google and self-driving vehicle unit Waymo still planned to attend. On Thursday, however, Waymo announced that it now will only participate virtually, as did Google, Intel, and General Motors. GM’s chief executive office, Mary Barra, will deliver her scheduled keynote and launch the new electric Chevy Silverado virtually. And on Friday, Dec 24, Microsoft announced it was pulling out of physical presence at the event.

On Dec 28, TechCrunch reported that OnePlus and Proctor and Gamble have opted to keep their presence virtual as well.

On Dec 29, AMD and MSI joined the exodus. As reported by Tom’s Hardware, both companies have decided to only have a virtual presence at the conference.

As of Thursday, December 30th, The Verge reported that BMW, IBM, Panasonic, and Mercedes also confirmed they will not attend CES 2022 in person.

The Verge also reports that it, and many other major tech publications, including CNET, Engadget, TechCrunch, TechRadar, and Tom’s Guide, will not be attending. The Register has said it does not plan in-person attendance, and IT World Canada will also be following the virtual version of the event.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been wreaking havoc on conferences over the past couple of years. The 2021 CES was virtual only; its 2020 edition came just before the pandemic was declared. And the 2020 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona was cancelled entirely, scant weeks before its scheduled start, after exhibitors cancelled in droves. In 2021, it held a hybrid event.

Most other tech vendors have opted for virtual events for the past two years, with hopes of returning to in-person in 2022. That is looking less likely, at least for the early part of the year. Both the World Economic Forum and the RSA security conference, previously scheduled for early 2022, have already been postponed until the summer.

UPDATE: Late on Dec 22, CTA posted this press release:

CES 2022 will be in person on January 5-8 in Las Vegas with strong safety measures in place, and our digital access is also available for people that don’t wish to, or can’t travel to Las Vegas. Our mission remains to convene the industry and give those who cannot attend in person the ability to experience the magic of CES digitally.
While we recently received 42 exhibitor cancellations (less than 7% of our exhibit floor), since last Friday we’ve added 60 new exhibitors for our in person event. Registrations for both our digital access and our Las Vegas event are continuing to show strong momentum, with thousands more registrations in the last few days.
CES 2022 will go forward as important innovation for world health and safety, mobility and solving problems will be exhibited. Furthermore, thousands of smaller and medium sized companies rely on CES for their business. We have increased our official count to over 2200 exhibitors and as announced yesterday many of our top elected officials from both political parties will be at CES.

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, as well as a rewarding experience on our digital access.

UPDATE: Dec 23, 11 am. Lenovo has tweeted that it is suspending all on-site activities at CES, and Ina Fried, chief technology correspondent for Axios, reported that AT&T has made the same decision.

1 pm. Updated Waymo status.

5:20 pm Updates on Intel, Google, and General Motors.

UPDATE: On Dec 24, Microsoft announced that it will only participate virtually.

UPDATE: Dec 29, AMD and MSI update.

UPDATE: Dec 30, BMW, IBM, Panasonic, and Mercedes going virtual only.


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Lynn Greiner
Lynn Greiner
Lynn Greiner has been interpreting tech for businesses for over 20 years and has worked in the industry as well as writing about it, giving her a unique perspective into the issues companies face. She has both IT credentials and a business degree.

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