According to the CES web site, the event consistently billed as the largest tech show in the Western Hemisphere is still on. Plans are still moving forward for the show to take place in Las Vegas on January 5-8. This will be the first in-person show since 2020, although there will still be a streaming component.
Greek letters be damned
The folks at CES have always been very hesitant to give up their in-person event. They were fairly late in canceling the in-person CES 2021, and the online event was laughable as a result. Yes, a lot of effort went into streaming the keynotes and breakouts, but the virtual event hall was more Myspace than magnificent. That same online experience is due to return with few or no upgrades, but this time the expectation is that the show will also go on in person.
The non-news of CES’s continued online presence comes, of course, as reports filter in from all around the country of other canceled events due to, well, you know. We’re also hearing early reports that the vaccines used in much of the world, especially China, may be useless now. I mention China because they are a huge part of the CES experience. At least they have been in the past. It’s not clear at this point how many Chinese companies still plan to travel to the US at this point.
Will people have confidence in the safety measures?
You can’t fault the CES people for trying. They are doing everything that they can, and then some. If you take a look at their safety page, it’s pretty impressive. They are requiring full vaccinations, although they are not requiring boosters. They will get you a PCR test before you go home. They are giving each person a rapid test when they get their badge. They’ve upgraded ventilation everywhere. It’s hard to say they could do more.
Unfortunately, CES can’t control anything but their own venues, and that leaves restaurants, events, and pretty much every other place in Las Vegas without real consistent safety protocols. Most of the show may be under one roof but you still need to stay somewhere and get from that place to the show floor. I’m sure people will be thinking about that.
It’s also not clear right now if the average person will think that CES is doing enough. It’s really possible that people just won’t think it’s worth the risk, even if that risk is pretty minimal. It’s going to be up to each person, each company, each exhibitor, to decide for themselves.
Dear readers, I don’t claim to have some sort of crystal ball that will let me see what’s coming next. I’m getting through this day by day, just like you are. We’ve all had hopes that things would go back to normal “very soon” and so far, they haven’t. By and large this blog has ignored the politics and deep medical dives, but after nearly two years we certainly can’t ignore the effects of the pandemic on society. Still, after two years it’s impossible to guess what’s coming right around the corner.
I’m going out on a limb with two predictions right now. Most of my predictions tend to be wrong, often because I take big swings. But I think these two predictions will probably come true. They’re just common sense.
The first is that the CES show will go on. It will go on because the show is just two weeks away meaning that food has already been ordered, staff schedules are already done, so it’s pretty much a given that this thing is going to happen in some way.
The second is that a lot of the medium-size to small exhibitors will just bail. So will about 2/3 of the attendees. We’ve already seen, just this morning, that several large players including Amazon are bailing. Others may follow in the coming days. There’s no news yet as to whether or not the big parties that CES is known for are still on, but I’m betting many aren’t.
CES has touted attendance numbers as high as 140,000 in past years. I’ve doubted those numbers but it doesn’t matter. I’m guessing real attendance numbers this year will be about 45,000. That will make the show floor seem very empty, especially combined with a lot of empty booths.
Your Solid Signal Blog team
The plan right now is for Solid Signal to have a reduced presence on the show floor. We’ll give you the best reporting we can, of course. It’s hard to know what there will be to report on, but if nothing else it looks like the parking won’t be a problem.