CES 2022: Google, GM Join Others In Halting Physical Attendance

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) which organises the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, is insisting the conference will still go ahead, with attendees.

The 2022 CES show is expected to take place from Wednesday 5 January to Saturday 8 January next year, but a number of big name tech firms have already announced they will not send personnel to the show.

Tech giants such as Amazon, Meta (Facebook’s parent), Twitter, Pinterest, announced on Tuesday their decision, all citing the Omicron variant of Coronavirus as the reason.

Image credit: World Health Organisation

CES 2022

But now other big names in the tech industry have also signalled their intention to either pull their staff from attending the show, or limiting the number of staff attending.

Reuters reported that General Motors and Alphabets’s Google and its self-driving auto-technology company Waymo on Thursday joined the companies no longer attending CES in person early next month.

GM chief executive Mary Barra had been scheduled to give a keynote speech at the annual conference, but she will now instead make the speech and presentation remotely, a spokesman told Reuters.

“We have decided to move to an all-digital approach with our activation at CES 2022 in January,” the American car maker said in a statement. “We are continuing with our plans on 5 January to share our significant company news, including the reveal of the Chevrolet Silverado EV.”

“After careful consideration we have decided to withhold from having a presence on the show floor of CES 2022,” a Google spokesperson was quoted as saying in a statement, and added that Google would continue to “identify and support virtual opportunities.”

Waymo said it hopes to participate virtually if possible at the Las Vegas event.

But other firms have also announced a withdraw from physically attending the trade show.

ByteDance-owned TikTok said it would hold a virtual event for partners and advertisers.

And also on Thursday, chip giant Intel said it would minimise staffing at CES.

“The health and safety of our employees, partners and customers  is  always a top priority,” Intel reportedly said. “Our plans for CES will move to a digital-first, live experience, with minimal on-site staff.”

PC maker Lenovo also said it will it would not send employees out of caution over the spread of Omicron.

Health precautions

Last year, as the Coronavirus pandemic still raging around the world, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) opted to make the 2021 trade show a virtual event, instead of its usual physical event that typically attracts around 180,000 attendees.

Organisers for the CES 2022 show have imposed for a number of strict health precautions for attendees, to safeguard people attending in person.

This includes includes vaccination requirements, the wearing of masks, and the availability of Covid-19 tests.

“Our mission remains to convene the industry and give those who cannot attend in person the ability to experience the magic of CES digitally,” CES were quoted by Reuters as saying in a statement. “CES 2022 will go forward as important innovation for world health and safety, mobility and solving problems will be exhibited.”

It added that while it had received 42 exhibitor cancellations since last Thursday, that was less than 7 percent of the exhibitor floor and 60 others had been added.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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