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CES 2021 Nixes Physical Event To Become ‘All-Digital Experience’

Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, says the CTA will use technology that has helped people work, learn and connect from home during the pandemic to “reimagine CES 2021 and bring together the tech community in a meaningful way.’

The massive annual Consumer Electronics Show is skipping the physical portion of its convention next year to become an “all-digital experience” that will show off the cutting-edge technologies and the latest product launches, the organizer said Tuesday.

The Consumer Technology Association said health concerns over the coronavirus pandemic prompted the organization to make CES 2021 a virtual event, which will be held Jan. 6-9, 2021. However, the CTA said, it plans to hold CES 2022 in Las Vegas again for a hybrid physical-virtual event.

[Related: The 10 Biggest Takeaways From CES 2020]

Some companies, like Microsoft and Facebook, have already said they won‘t hold physical events through the first half of 2021 over the uncertainty of how long the pandemic could last, and Google recently told employees they can work from home through next summer.

“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 CTA, in a statement.

Shapiro promised that the CTA will use technology that has helped people work, learn and connect from home during the pandemic to “reimagine CES 2021 and bring together the tech 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,” he said.

CES 2021 will offer a “highly personalized experience” for attendees, who will “have a front-row seat to discover and see the latest technology.”

Randy Copeland, CEO of Velocity Micro, a Richmond, Va.-based system builder that sells gaming PCs and professional workstations, said he has traditionally attended CES in the past because it‘s “key time to go face-to-face” with executives at vendors he works with like Intel, AMD and Nvidia.

However, Copeland said, he understands why the CTA made the call, particularly because for larger exhibitors it‘s important to know plans months ahead of time.

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