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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

CES 2022 starts to fall apart as T-Mobile and others bail on in-person conference

Another year, another gigantic tech tradeshow that looks like it may be falling apart as the COVID-19 pandemic continues — now that T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert, one of the Consumer Electronics Show’s featured speakers, has publicly announced that his company won’t be attending the world’s largest electronics show next month.

I’m sorry we’ll miss seeing everyone at CES this year, but we are prioritizing the safety of our team and other attendees.

Our statement here: https://t.co/WAIkFYMzc7

— Mike Sievert (@MikeSievert) December 22, 2021

“T-Mobile will continue to serve as a CES sponsor and title sponsor of the DRL Championship Race but the vast majority of our team will not be traveling to Las Vegas,” reads the company’s press release. “Additionally, T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert will no longer be offering a keynote in-person or virtually.”

Other companies that might make a sizable impact if they ditched CES 2022 include Samsung and GM, which also have featured keynotes, and companies that generally rent a lot of prominent space on the show floor, like Intel, LG, Panasonic and Sony. We’re asking major companies now if they’re still committed; a Sony rep suggested to us that the company still plans to attend as of earlier today.

Bloomberg reports that AMD and Samsung are still planning a limited presence, Nvidia will have a virtual-only keynote, and that Qualcomm, OnePlus and HTC still plan to attend. Sony, Samsung and Google are all listed as “monitoring local conditions,” which could be read as a meaningless platitude but also gives those companies an easy out if they decide the conditions have changed.

This morning, the Consumer Technology Association, which runs CES, stated that it still plans to host an in-person show. “At this point, we’re very much focused on having this show and doing it safely and putting the right protocols in place to ensure that people feel comfortable with it,” a CTA exec told Adweek.

In the recent past, we’ve seen the question of “will they or won’t they cancel due to COVID” stretch on for some time. Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the first big tech show to go on after the COVID-19 pandemic initially hit, held out for quite some time even as partners continued to cancel. Eventually, organizers did have to cancel MWC 2020. Major tech companies ditched the in-person version of MWC 2021 as well. CES 2021, on the other hand, was all virtual.

Update, 8:41 PM ET: Added additional company replies via Bloomberg.

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Michael Davis
Interested in history. In my free time I usually read. I like to listen to music with headphones.

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