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CEO DATELINE – Consumer Technology Association cancels CES, switches to virtual event

July 28, 2020
By Walt Williams

The Consumer Technology Association announced Tuesday it will cancel its upcoming CES trade show in January and instead hold a virtual event—a sign that association event cancelations will continue beyond 2020.

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CES is one of the largest trade shows in the U.S. and a major media event where many new and upcoming technology products make their public debut. CTA had previously planned an in-person show in Las Vegas with numerous safety precautions to lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission, but in a statement on its website, the group said the next CES will be an all-digital experience.

“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,” CTA CEO Gary Shapiro said. “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.”

The first Consumer Electronics Show—later shortened to CES—was held in 1967 in New York City. The association notes that among the many consumer electronic items that debuted at the event were the videocassette recorder, satellite radio and Microsoft Xbox.

The next CES “will be a new immersive experience, where attendees will have a front-row seat to discover and see the latest technology,” CTA said. “This highly personalized experience will bring a global event to the comfort and safety of your home or office.”

CTA is not the first association to cancel an event scheduled for early 2021. The National Retail Federation announced in early July that its Big Show—originally scheduled for January in New York City—will be transformed into a virtual event with the in-person show pushed back to June.