Jul 28, 2020 - Technology

Pandemic drives CES to drop in-person 2021 event

A photo illustration of the CES logo displayed on a smartphone.

Photo illustration: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Next year's CES electronics show will be virtual, a reversal from earlier plans to press on with the event in person despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The CES trade show in Las Vegas each January is one of tech's biggest global events. Its cancellation as an in-person affair signals extended tech industry skepticism that the U.S. will return to normal by this winter.

What they're saying: "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 of the Consumer Technology Association, which puts on CES.

  • Instead, product showcases and other aspects of the show will be strictly digital, Shapiro said.

Flashback: CES had previously been drawing up plans for keeping attendees socially distant during the intended gathering. Those are being scrapped as U.S. infections surge.

Our thought bubble: CTA was an outlier in pressing ahead, Axios' Ina Fried notes. Their initial announcement that the show would go on was greeted with widespread skepticism.

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