KEY POINTS

  • CES is an annual trade show held in Las Vegas, Nevada
  • CTA CEO Gary Sharipo said it can surpass in-person audience since much of the show will be free online 
  • CTA plans to return to Las Vegas for CES 2022 and will bring "the best elements of physical and digital shows"

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) became the latest victim of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as organizers decided to shift its 2021 trade affair to an online format.

Next year's CES, which was previously scheduled on January 6-9 in Las Vegas, has been canceled due to the growing cases of the virus in the United States. Instead, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), headed by CEO Gary Shapiro said that the biggest trade fair in North America will switch to an “all-digital experience” in accordance with social distancing guidelines provided by health agencies to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We've been optimistic, but realistic. We had no choice but to re-imagine CES,” said Shapiro, according to USA Today, adding that this will be the first time the CES will be going virtual since it was launched in 1967.

The Consumer Electronics Show, which brings together tens of thousands of people, said it plans to hold the event in January despite health concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic The Consumer Electronics Show, which brings together tens of thousands of people, said it plans to hold the event in January despite health concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / MARIO TAMA

In contrast to what CTA had planned prior to the major jump from an in-person extravaganza to a more “new normal” online show, the standards and trade organization was planning to push through with a “scaled-down” version of CES as recently as late June. Engadget said CTA was “expecting” to take extra precautions just to get the show back on Las Vegas. These included wider aisles, spacious meeting and breakout areas and sanitation. The outlet however wasn't keen on the idea and said that companies would prefer to stay at home rather than send some of their employees to the event.

While in-person CES can draw some 175,000 people yearly, Shapiro said it can overtake the number and have a bigger audience since much of the show will be available for free online viewing.

“What it can do is put the keynotes and panel chats online and come up with a way to present new products,” said USA Today.

Despite canceling its Las Vegas show, CTA is still planning to return to Sin City for CES 2022, said Variety. When that time comes, CES will combine “the best elements of a physical and digital show.”

CTA said it will release programming details of its “highly personalized” virtual CES 2021 “later,” the outlet added.

It's no question that top global companies like Samsung, LG and Apple, who attended its first CES since 1992, would understand the decision. CTA is just following protocols and also wants to protect the health and safety of its staff, exhibitors and audience.