COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the world and cancelled pretty much every trade show in 2020. Now it claims its first show for the new year, and it’s a big one.
It feels like just yesterday, but it was over six months ago that we landed in Las Vegas ready to take in and write about what technology was on its way to store shelves and consumers. Vegas was cold, dry, and offered a solid assortment of gadgets, ranging from TVs that rotated to giant screens to educational toys, water from air, the excitement of Gallium Nitride, and so much more.
It was CES 2020, and it was a typical Consumer Electronics Show, with more to write about than one person can really handle, thanks in part to how many hotels and convention centres the show typically runs across. We walked so much that week that our step counter would have suffered from Tex Avery Syndrome in sheer amazement alone.
Next year, it won’t be the same.
I think we all know why, and it’s had an impact on pretty much every technological trade show this year. Ignore the fact that Australians probably won’t be leaving the country until some time into next year, because even if they could leave, Australia’s journalists wouldn’t be making the yearly pilgrimage to Las Vegas for CES in 2021 anyway.
You see CES 2021 won’t be the same.
The Consumer Technology Association, the body that runs CES, has decided to keep CES 2021 an online-only trade show, which given the state of the world is clearly the right move.
While online-only shows can be a little hit and miss, and will likely mean CES 2021 becomes very much a press release and online briefing free-for-all, going online-only makes a lot more sense when the world is struggling with COVID-19.
Becoming a digital trade show for the year will at least help curtail some of the viral spread, while still getting the news out about what’s coming, complete with product showcases, media events, and keynotes and conferences. It won’t be the same, but right now, the world clearly isn’t the same, and needs to remedy what’s going on before CES and other events can go back to the way they once were.
As for when CES will go back to being an in-person event where journalists can get their step counts back up, CTA has suggested CES 2022 will be that time, though we won’t know until deeper into next year. The world can and will beat this pandemic, and when that happens, whatever we define as “normal” can be something we go back to.