The next big event on the tech show calendar is almost upon us. The CES 2021 kicks off on Monday, 11th January and runs for four days. Last year it was held just ahead of the Covid-19 pandemic wave, so ended up being one of the last physical exhibitions covered by the tech press. This year it will be somewhat reduced and virtual only. However the organisers, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), have already been booking venues for 2022 having faith in the various vaccines being able to provide enough personal safety for a hybrid event.
In 2020 the CES show attracted 171,268 attendees, including 6,517 members of the media, to promotional venues stuffed by 4,400 exhibitors. In 2021 expect these numbers to be scaled down. We do have important keynotes and presentations from the likes of AMD, Nvidia, and Samsung to look forward to but the online-only event will feature a relatively small 1,000 exhibitors. Being online will open up 'attendance' more widely though, with almost the same number of fold expected to take part in the show this year as last (estimated to be 150,000 visitors in 2021).
Venture Beat interviewed the CEO of the CTA, Gary Shapiro, about CES 2021 and 2022, for some background info on the plans. The 2021 show will have a media day and 100 hours of programming. "Serious bandwidth" has been readied and there are already 100,000 people registered to 'attend' the first virtual CES. Meanwhile, keynotes will be available for anyone, registered or not, to view on social media. Some planning effort has been put in to avoid programming overlaps in the same technology category – so two important drone sessions won't take place at the same time, for example.
According to Shapiro the hot technologies in 2021 are going to be 5G broadband, 8K TVs, AR and VR, health tech and drones. Moving onto the topic of CES 2022, the CTA CEO has growing confidence in the event being back to normal. He hopes 2021 is th first and only virtual event. Confidence in the vaccines and their rollout means that 2020 is planned as a hybrid event – a physical event with some of the most effective digital presentations staying in that format. Interestingly CTA started selling physical exhibition space for CES 2022 last month and some halls are already selling out.