As the world continues to battle on with SARS-CoV-2, large public events and especially trade shows were cancelled one after another for 2020. Large computing shows such as Computex, even after an attempted delay to September, eventually completely cancelled their plans for the year.

Today, the Computer Technology Association has announced that next year’s CES 2021 event will also no longer take place in physical form, and instead move to an all-digital format experience. CES is usually the world’s biggest consumer electronics show with up to 180,000 attendees assembling in early January in Las Vegas to showcase the newest gadgets and electronics in the consumer market.

The new all-digital format will be a big change for the show which likely will represent a herculean effort on the part of the organisers. CTA President and CEO Gary Shapiro quotes:

"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, CTA. “Technology helps us all work, learn and connect during the pandemic — and that innovation will also help us 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." 

We here at AnandTech had low expectations of CES taking place, so the move to an online format makes a ton of sense given the health and safety concerns of such a large physical event. The current pandemic situation in the US and various travel restrictions as well as quarantine procedures will have played a large role in the CTA’s decision to cancel the physical event. The CTA states that they’re planning to returning to Las Vegas in 2022.

With CES confirmed to moving to an online-only event, as well as yesterday’s announcement of Supercomputing 2020 (SC20) also going online-only, the AnandTech team is likely to be staying at home until well into 2021 as there’s no physical events left to attend for the foreseeable future.

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  • Peskarik - Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - link

    Like I said before, Computex is done. CES is also done. Returning in 2022? Yeah, good luck with that (not gonna happen).
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - link

    It's expected that by that time there will be a vaccine, a simple vaccination proof for registration to the show should be something sensible to get in.
  • GreenReaper - Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - link

    Vaccines aren't perfect. A show like CES needs to be certain it can take place months in advance, or be able to get insurance at a reasonable price to cover it in case it can't. Otherwise, if it doesn't work out, the event would likely incur significant costs that would cripple it as a going concern.

    The real question is whether there will be a CES at all, after people have found out how well they do while not spending budget on a big trip to show off to other marketing staff and journalists.
  • A5 - Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - link

    Yeah, this is the real thing. Big players can get press coverage outside of these kind of events, so once they realize the bang-for-buck isn't actually there they don't tend to go back. E3's recent years are a good example.
  • GreenReaper - Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - link

    Not surprised, Further Confusion and JMoF also moved to 2022 in the last month.

    Google et. al. had to reconfigure their event rich data syntax to account for all the cancellations:
  • AusMatt - Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - link

    "SARC-CoV-2"? I think you mean "SARS-CoV-2".
  • xdddddddddddddddddddd - Wednesday, July 29, 2020 - link

  • wr3zzz - Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - link

    Is CES still CES if it's all digital? Without the crowd and behind the scene networking it's just YouTube.
  • nathanddrews - Friday, July 31, 2020 - link

    I can't wait to see the latest 8K displays recorded on an iPhone, compressed to YouTube 4K, scaled down to my 1080p phone. #CES
  • TheinsanegamerN - Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - link


    This will be the death of CES. It was already on a slow decline, like a dementia patient. Now it's gonna slide down HARD. What incentive is there for any big tech company to put hundreds of thousands into CES when they can just put up a youtube video, send product to the like of anandtech or techspot for review, put out the word on social media, ece?

    The same thing happened with E3. E3 is a nothingburger now, most of the big dogs have their own shows before or during E3 and the little players have massive word of mouth via the internet.

    The biggest advantage of CES is the hype building of having a bunch of people together to talk about a product. In an all virtual world this effect is lost, and CES just becomes another website.

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