‘Pessimism’ surrounds opening day of CES as Covid concerns deplete its impact
Image credit: reuters
CES has re-opened as an in-person event this week after last year’s show arrived in a digital-only format due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but some analysts have warned that it faces a critical reckoning as the world’s media continues to avoid physical interaction and tech firms delay their announcements.
On a typical year, CES, which is now in its sixth decade, would be the world’s largest consumer technology show.
But strict Covid measures that have been put in place to protect attendees and a reduction in length from its traditional four-day schedule due to the Omicron variant are threatening to reduce its relevance.
Those attending the show in person must show proof of vaccination as well as test negative for Covid-19 less than 24 hours before entering a CES venue, with masks also required throughout the show.
The head of the show Gary Shapiro said: “As the world’s most influential technology event, CES is steadfast in its pledge to be the gathering place to showcase products and discuss ideas that will ultimately make our lives better.
“We are shortening the show to three days and have put in place comprehensive health measures for the safety of all attendees and participants.”
But industry expert Leo Gebbie, a principal analyst for connected devices at CCS Insight, said: “Although over 1,000 companies have committed to showcasing their latest technologies at CES, we believe that the ongoing pandemic – and the impact of the Omicron variant – will lead to a substantially reduced delegate attendance, particularly from international visitors.
“The decision by the majority of the leading tech media outlets to cancel in-person attendance and cover the show remotely will be a huge blow to the organisers.
“On this basis, we are pessimistic about the impact it will have and fear that it risks becoming somewhat of a non-event compared to CESs of yesteryear.”
At the end of December, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and AMD all withdrew from CES as Omicron cases surged, although some planned to continue to make a virtual appearance.
Speaking about this year’s show, TechRadar’s Lance Ulanoff said that “no one makes a major, culture-shifting product announcement in Las Vegas anymore”.
“All the majors – most of whom still attend CES – hold the big stuff for their own bespoke events.
“All realise the power of the internet and how they can digitally draw a global audience for every Samsung Unpacked and every Apple iPhone launch. They’re not just bypassing CES and events like it, they’re going straight to consumers.”
So far the show hasn’t been entirely without major announcements: Sony has revealed its new range of Bravia televisions and confirmed that PlayStation VR2 will be the name of its virtual-reality headset for the PlayStation 5.
Chinese firm TCL has also unveiled new smartglasses, Dell has unveiled new laptops, and Acer has announced the latest line-up of its Predator gaming monitors.
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