CES 2021 to Be All Digital

The enormous annual technology trade show had been expected to mark the debut of the Las Vegas Convention Center expansion.

CES Trade Show Las Vegas Going All Digital
The trade show floor at CES 2020 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Photo Credit: Consumer Technology Association

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The mammoth Consumer Electronics Show that was expected to mark the debut of the expanded Las Vegas Convention Center this coming January will instead happen in a purely digital format, organizers announced today.

"We hoped to host an in-person event in Las Vegas, but given the current public health concerns, it's just not possible to bring everyone safely together in person," said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which organizes the annual gathering.  

But Shapiro went on to note that the organization's focus on technology aligns well with the challenges at hand. "For CES, the pandemic gives us an opportunity to reimagine how we use our platform to bring our community together in a meaningful way, and enables our exhibitors to meet their customers and reach new audiences," he said.

The digital event that is being designed for the first week of January will include four days of programming and exhibits, representing more than 30 technology-product categories. The online format will allow for a highly personalized experience, the organizers underscored, and include keynotes and conferences, a product showcase, and breakouts and networking.

"Moving to an all-digital format for CES is simply the right thing to do," Shapiro added. "Our exhibitors, partners and thought leaders will now have the time to plan, to think, to create compelling ways to engage digital audiences from around the world. For 50 years, CES has been the global stage of innovation, and this is the next phase of our evolution — reimagining CES and bringing together the entire tech community at a time when enabling innovation is more important than ever."

The announcement deals another huge blow to the Las Vegas meetings industry, where the annual CES typically fills the city's hotel rooms.

"We know the decision to move CES to a virtual show in January was extremely difficult for CTA leadership," said Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. "While it’s disappointing we won't be welcoming CES as the first show inside our West Hall expansion, we certainly respect their decision in light of the impact the virus has caused throughout the world. We deeply value our 40-year partnership with CES and look forward to welcoming the show and their loyal attendees back to Las Vegas in 2022."