Amid a wave of in-person cancellations in recent weeks from big names ranging from Microsoft to Google and a surge of covid-19 cases caused by the omicron variant, CES 2022, the world’s biggest tech show, is cutting one day from its schedule.
In an announcement on New Year’s Eve, the Consumer Technology Association said that CES 2022 in Las Vegas would only run from Jan. 5-7 as “an additional safety measure” to its current covid-19 protocols. Given the number of tech companies and media outlets, including Gizmodo, that have bailed on going in-person in recent weeks, the move isn’t entirely a surprise.
In this case, the Consumer Technology Association appears to be making a stubborn, and reckless, statement: The show must go on despite the raging spread of the virus. On Tuesday, the U.S. reported a seven-day average of 265,427 new covid-19 cases, a new record. Two days later, on Thursday, it broke the same record again with an average of 355,990 infections.
Aside from listing its covid-19 safety protocols—which, to be fair, include vaccine and mask requirements—the Consumer Technology Association didn’t mention the record number of cases reported in the U.S. this week. It did, however, state that more than 2,200 exhibitors have confirmed that they will attend the event in-person.
Notably, the association stated that 143 additional companies had signed up to exhibit in-person over the last two weeks. Earlier this week, officials stated that in-person cancellations only accounted for 10% of the show floor.
“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,” Gary Shapiro, the president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, said in a statement. “We are shortening the show to three days and have put in place comprehensive health measures for the safety of all attendees and participants.”
It looks like there are still plenty of small and medium-sized companies attending. In addition, large exhibitors like LG, Panasonic, Sony, and Samsung are still going in-person.
Believe me, I have nothing against CES and I appreciate that organizers have made safety and health a part of the conversation around the event. I also like technology, and I’m looking forward to seeing all the shiny new TVs that will make their debut in a few days. But I just find it disappointing that despite the severity of the current health situation, there are still some entities that claim that things can go on much in the same way they have in the past.
We all know by now that’s not true.