The Consumer Electronics Show in January 2021 will be online and all-digital

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) organisers have confirmed that the next edition of the world’s largest tech trade show will be online-only and all-digital. Here’s why.

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) announced this week that the in-person event will be cancelled due to rising concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

CES 2021: What you need to know

Going online

The online move comes as no surprise since all tech events lined up for 2020 have already gone the digital-only route. With nearly 17 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world and almost 700 000 deaths, we’d hardly have a handle on this thing by January.

That said, CTA was still planning as recently as May to hold the CES 2021 in person, with organisers giving manufacturers and companies the opportunity to showcase their wares digitally, if they chose to do so.

It was a strange stance to take since most major events — South By South West (SXSW), BlizzCon, Mobile World Congress, E3, to name a few — had already been cancelled, postponed or gone online.

New immersive experience

CES, which usually takes place in Las Vegas and sees thousands of expo goers, retailers and manufactures squeezed into convention halls, will now pivot towards a “new immersive experience”.

Details are still sparse at this stage, however, CTA confirmed that more information will be released in due course. They confirmed, however, that the event will be “highly personalised”, and that CES 2022 is on the cards as well.

Re-imagining CES 2021

President and CEO of the CTA, Gary Shapiro, said on Tuesday that it would not be possible “to safely convene tens of thousands of people in Las Vegas in early January 2021 to meet and do business in person”.

He added that “technology helps us all work, learn and connect during the pandemic” and it’s only fitting that innovation will also help to “reimagine CES2021” and unite the community in a meaningful way.

“By shifting to an all-digital platform for 2021, we can deliver a unique experience that helps our exhibitors connect with existing and new audiences”.

Gary Shapiro

What to expect from CES 2021

The new CES format will include:

  • Keynotes and conferences. Now you’ll have a front-row seat for groundbreaking announcements and insights from the world’s tech leaders completely online.
  • Product showcase. With this digital evolution of the CES show floor, you’ll be able to explore products and services, based on your interests and business, through dynamic product showcases or live demos.
  • Meetings and networking. You’ll be able to engage with the brands, thought leaders and business connections you care about with live interactions, meetups or roundtable discussions.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming the global tech industry, from international brands to budding startups, to kick off the year with the world’s most influential digital technology event. Mark your calendars for the first week in January and be on the lookout for more exciting news about CES 2021. We plan to return to Las Vegas for CES 2022, combining the best elements of a physical and digital show.”

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