2021 CES Trade Show Moving Online Only Due to COVID-19 Resurgence

The annual in-person CES in Las Vegas — an industry mainstay for 50 years once known by its longer moniker of the Consumer Electronics Show — has been canceled due to surges in COVID-19 infections and will be replaced by an all-digital format, Jan. 6-9, 2021, organizer Consumer Technology Association announced July 28.

“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,” Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CTA, said in a statement. “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.”

CTA said it plans to return to Las Vegas for CES 2022, combining elements of a physical and digital show.

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As recently as June, the CTA had vowed to proceed with at least a partially physical show. At the time, the trade association said in a statement, “We will showcase our exhibitors’ products, technology breakthroughs and ideas to the world, both physically in Las Vegas and digitally. “You can expect to see a wider selection of live-streamed CES content, along with many other engaging digital and virtual opportunities, enabling you to connect with the world’s leading technology innovators, thought leaders and policymakers.”

In January 2020, more than 175,000 industry professionals, including more than 61,000 from outside the United States, convened in Las Vegas for CES 2020.

At the time reports were just filtering in from China about a mysterious new illness centered around the city of Wuhan. It wasn’t until Jan. 11, a day after the 2020 CES ended, that the first death was reported. From the Wall Street Journal: “A new virus implicated in a pneumonia outbreak in central China killed a 61-year-old man there, Chinese health authorities said. … It was the first death of the outbreak in the city of Wuhan, where 59 people have been quarantined. Chinese scientists discovered a new strain of coronavirus there this week.”

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In last month’s statement, the CTA said it would enable social distancing at the January 2021 CES, including widening aisles in many exhibit areas and providing more space between seats in conference programs and other areas where attendees congregate. Attendees and exhibitors would be encouraged to wear masks and avoid shaking hands.

CTA also said it planned to limit touch points throughout the facilities, including through cashless systems for purchases and transactions. It also was considering employing contactless thermal scans at key venue entry points, in addition to providing enhanced on-site access to health service and medical aid.

Government Shutdown to Affect Some CES Programming

The federal government shutdown is expected to affect some programming at CES, according to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

The show is scheduled to take place Jan. 8-11 in Las Vegas.

“Because of the government shutdown, some of our scheduled government speakers at CES 2019 have alerted us that they must cancel their travel to the show,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CTA. “As a result, some of our scheduled CES 2019 programming and speakers will change. We urge attendees who planned to hear U.S. federal government speakers to check the sessions on the website to ensure those individuals are still speaking. Our Speakers Directory can be found here. This page will be updated regularly.”

AT&T’s John Donovan to Deliver Keynote on 5G Opportunities at CES

AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan will lead a keynote session titled “New Frontiers in Mobile” at CES 2019, the Consumer Technology Association announced.

Donovan will join MediaLink Chairman and CEO Michael Kassan to discuss opportunities for 5G, the next generation technology for mobile.

Owned and produced by CTA, CES 2019 takes place Jan. 8-11 in Las Vegas. The keynote will begin at 2 p.m. Jan. 9 at the Park Theater, MGM Park.

Presented by MediaLink, the keynote will explore how 5G will open up opportunities for robotic manufacturing, AR/VR and mixed reality, sporting experiences and public safety, among other industries. After Donovan’s talk, a panel of industry executives will discuss how global companies are developing marketing strategies to best engage consumers in this mobile, data-driven world. Confirmed keynote panelists include National Geographic CMO Jill Cress, Deloitte Digital CMO Alicia Hatch, Magic Leap CPO Omar Khan, Adobe CMO Ann Lewnes, The Stagwell Group president and managing partner Mark Penn, and Ascential Events president and Cannes Lions chairman Phil Thomas.

“AT&T is a leader in the next-generation of connected mobility that will impact every aspect of our lives, and 5G is the platform that will enable that transformation,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA, in a statement. “We are excited to have John Donovan and Michael Kassan lead this powerful CES keynote that will delve into the new world of 5G innovation and the next wave of connectivity.”

Donovan is responsible for the bulk of AT&T’s global telecommunications and U.S. video services businesses, including its Business, Mobility and Entertainment, and Technology & Operations groups, according to a CTA press release. Previously, Donovan served as chief strategy officer and group president, AT&T Technology and Operations, where he led strategic planning for the company overall.

Kassan founded MediaLink in 2003, a strategic advisory firm serving companies at the intersection of media, marketing, advertising, technology, entertainment and finance.

CTA: Emerging Tech, Smartphones Driving Household Consumer Electronics

About 87% of U.S. households own a smartphone, which is second only to the television at 96% ownership, according to new data from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

The trade group said that for the first time, the top three most-frequently owned tech products in the home are screen devices, with laptops trailing TVs and smartphones at 72%.

“The rapid ascent of smartphone ownership in U.S. households exemplifies [its] versatility — for communication, entertainment, productivity and more,” Steve Koenig, VP of market research, said in a statement.  “And because of that, it’s possible we’ll see smartphone ownership in the U.S. match that of TVs within the next five years.”

Echo and Google Home, have nearly tripled in ownership rate to reach 22% of American households — one of the fastest-adopted technologies since tablets, according to CTA.

Smartwatch adoption continues to grow, with 18% of U.S. households now owning at least one of the devices — an increase of six percentage points over last year. Additionally, ownership rates of drones and virtual reality headsets were measured at 11% and 10% of households, respectively.

Next-gen screen technologies and the availability of larger screen sizes drove more U.S. consumers to buy technology in and around the TV, said the CTA. The trade group said 4K Ultra HD televisions experienced the largest growth in household ownership rate, rising 15 percentage points year-over-year to reach 31% household ownership. Indeed, 19% of households own a TV with a screen size of 60 inches or bigger. Ownership of digital media streaming devices rose nine percentage points since 2017 to 45% of households.

“It’s no surprise that … smart speakers and VR are among the products consumers anticipate buying the most” said Ben Arnold, senior director of innovation and trends. “Many of these devices incorporate new technologies and features – artificial intelligence, voice recognition, faster processing – and at the same time provide a smarter way to communicate or experience content.”