A month ago, CES was on track to continue on its convention format for January 2021. The organizers, Consumers Technology Association (CTA), had announced CES as an in-person event that would take necessary coronavirus precautions.
But on Tuesday, CTA pulled the plug on CES continuing as an in-person event. Instead, CES 2021 will be an all-digital event set to “offer a highly personalized experience” this 6-9 January.
“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,” stated Gary Shapiro, the CTA President and CEO.
What is CES?
For those that do not know about CES, Consumers Electronics Show is one of the biggest annual tech events in the world. For 50 years, the event has served as a platform for product launches, announcements, and brand-consumer engagement. The event also had economic benefits for Las Vegas as it attracts tens of thousands of people every year. In CES 2019 alone, there were 171,268 attendees from across the world and 4,419 exhibiting companies.
With CES 2021 going all-digital, the repercussions are enormous for Las Vegas. Yet, there is a silver lining to this announcement. For one, at least it is not canceled. But even more so, this all-digital edition will allow people worldwide to experience CES in a front-row seat. The implications and possibilities of how the organizers and exhibitors will use the platform are endless.
How others pulled it off?
Apple and Microsoft have already shown how to pull off long format live events. The first-ever World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) had thousands of viewers from around the globe. Many viewers tuned in for the announcements made by Apple in WWDC. It is the same for other companies at their events or the CES.
The Challenges !!!
At CES, exhibiting companies showcase thousands of products. From new launches, prototypes, recent releases to bestsellers, there is innovation everywhere. And the 200,000 visitors get to experience the tech of their interest across the four-five day event.
With CES going digital, more viewers will be able to experience the product launch or announcements by exhibitors. And they can do that from the safety of their homes. We still have to wait and see how CES copes with the problem of giving digital space and coverage to the exhibiting companies. There could be way fewer companies showcasing the products in the first place.
Big names like LG, Sony, Dell, Razer, and many more have used the CES platform to showcase their latest and great products. They have used it to gain consumer feedback on their prototypes or to put ideas across. Dell, for example, has always showcased their new XPS lineup at CES.
But CES is also a boon for tech startups who have a compelling product in their hands but need a stage to showcase it to potential buyers. CES is that stage for big, small, and medium companies alike to get exposure and press coverage. The platform also allows companies and consumers to network with each other.
CES 2021 will “allow the entire tech community to safely share ideas and introduce the products that will shape our future.” The fundamentals of the event are to stay intact with,
- Online keynotes and conferences: Tech enthusiasts will still be getting awaited announcements and surprises.
- Product Showcase: A digital CES show floor will grant viewers access to products and services. Companies can choose to do it through live demos or dynamic product showcases.
- Meetings and Networking: The event will still have live interactions, meetups, and roundtable discussions. The community as a whole will be able to engage in ideas and generate exciting topics.
The all-digital CES 2021 is undoubtedly an exciting proposition for the tech community as a whole. CTA’s early announcement on the digitalization of CES is proof of their commitment and plan for 2021. But, it is also the reality brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. At least for now, CES is happening.
The ongoing pandemic has forced the cancellation of many events for 2020, with IFA being an exception. The European tech event, which is similar in scale to CES, will happen in September, although in a new format. IFA will be an invite-only event limited to 1000 attendees per event section on a given day. Unlike previous years, the event is not open to the public, but it will be available digitally.
While CES could have adopted IFA’s way, the verdict is still out on how IFA will perform. The CTA has also said that it plans to resume CES as an in-person event for 2022, “combining the best elements of a physical and digital show.”