COVID-19 Is Not Stopping This Year’s CES

CES to Move Ahead

CES, the tech sector’s annual conference, is moving ahead as planned despite rising cases of COVID-19 and cancellations from many industry leaders. In recent days, Amazon (AMZN), Meta (FB), Twitter (TWTR), and T-Mobile (TMUS) all pulled out of the event.

Nonetheless, the Consumer Technology Association, which runs the conference, expects 50,000 to 75,000 attendees at this year’s event. The conference took place in person in January 2020 and about 170,000 attendees were present. Then, when it was virtual in 2021, there were about 80,000 people in attendance. In prior, normal years, about 200,000 people attended.

By moving ahead with the conference, CES is testing sentiment among business travelers. How it turns out could impact how businesses approach larger gatherings in 2022.

Exhibitor Lists Increasing

The Consumer Technology Association’s decision to move forward with its conference comes amidst growing cancellations on the part of corporate America. JPMorgan Chase (JPM) decided to go online for its large healthcare conference in mid-January, while the Davos Economic Forum, which occurs in January, was postponed. It is the second year in a row that the gathering of world leaders and business executives was canceled because of COVID. Professional sports games and other live events have also been canceled in recent days.

Despite all that, organizers of CES plan to hold an in-person event. They say the number of exhibitors is increasing rather than declining, in spite of rising COVID cases.

Live Press Events and Keynote Speakers Are Scheduled at CES

As it stands, roughly 2,200 companies have signed up to exhibit their products on the showroom floor. In 2020 that stood at around 4,500. CES will include live press events and keynote speakers, in addition to the exhibit. Among the keynote speakers are executives from General Motors (GM), Abbott Laboratories (ABT), and Samsung Electronics. T-Mobile (TMUS) CEO Mike Sievert withdrew his keynote presentation due to COVID-19. T-Mobile is limiting its presence at the show this year.

CES is seen as something of a rite of passage for tech companies and enthusiasts. While COVID-19 moved the tech trade show online last year, this time it’s live again. Whether people are willing to travel to Las Vegas to see the latest and greatest in tech remains to be seen.

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ABOUT Meg Richardson Meg Richardson is a writer specializing in markets, technology, and personal finance. She loves breaking down seemingly complex ideas and making them readable and interesting for everyone. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia University. When she is not writing about finance, she enjoys running in Central Park and drawing cartoons.

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