CES 2021 Makes History as the Largest Digital Tech Industry Event

Andrea Doyle, Senior News Editor
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ARLINGTON, Va. — The first-ever all-digital Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2021 held January 11-14 made history as the largest digital tech event ever. Almost 2,000 companies unveiled next-gen innovation for a better future. Owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association, the all-digital CES 2021 featured product launches from startups to tech giants, keynotes from global industry leaders, live entertainment from Hollywood, and more than 100 hours of conference programming.

“The all-digital CES 2021 engaged the global tech community to experience innovation, make connections and conduct business,” said Gary Shapiro, President and CEO, CTA. “CES showed how the pandemic accelerated the arc of innovation and illustrated the resilience and innovative spirit of our industry. From the latest innovations for the home and entertainment, advances in 5G, vehicle technology, AI and digital health, the technologies at CES 2021 will pave the way for a brighter tomorrow.”

In Las Vegas, which would be bustling with approximately 180,000 attendees during CES in year’s past, “love notes” could be found up and down The Strip. Each resort turned their marquees into different version of the message, “We miss you and can’t wait to welcome you back in 2022.”

CES, held in Las Vegas for more than four decades, is a huge loss for the city. Last year’s CES alone had an estimated total economic impact of $219.4 million, says the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. With a one-two blow, this year’s show was going to be the first in the $980.3 million, 1.4 million-square-foot West Hall expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). In addition, Elon Musk’s $52.5 Boring Co. underground people mover — which was to shuttle people in an underground Loop system around the LVCC — was to debut during the show.

“CES is one of the largest and longest standing conventions in the destination and we miss the show’s organizers and attendees greatly this year,” said Steve Hill, LVCVA President and CEO. “We wish them a successful virtual show and we are excited to welcome them back to Las Vegas with open arms next year.”

What was one of the biggest takeaways from this year’s CES? “You can go from a physical to a digital event, although it is extremely difficult. Our audience was very appreciative, and our industry was very thankful that we rose to the occasion,” Shapiro said, adding that this year’s digital event did not replace the magic, and five-sense experience, of a face-to-face gathering. “It is an extraordinary time given the pandemic. We had to adjust to serve our marketplace, and we chose to do so with a purely digital event. We will be hybrid in 2022.”

Related. CES Cancels F2F, Moves to All-Virtual Event in 2021 

Industry Comes Together Digitally
CES 2021 kicked off Jan. 11 with Media Day featuring 19 online press conferences with companies including Bosch, Canon, Caterpillar, Hisense, Intel, LG Electronics, Mercedes-Benz, Panasonic, Samsung Electronics and Sony. Not surprising, given the pandemic and work-from-home trend, Media Day focused on innovation that personalizes work, health and entertainment at home, as well as advancements in transportation and mobility.

“The industry came together digitally at CES 2021. This was a medium for companies to make announcements, launch products and connect with their audiences,” Karen Chupka, Executive Vice President, CES, said. “The all-digital format brought new voices to the tech conversation.”

The CES conference program showcased more than 100 hours of programming. Sessions covered pressing topics including privacy, the future of AI and health care, autonomous transportation, trends in retail, and tech policy.

The future of entertainment was reimagined at CES 2021, with a special event featuring Ryan Seacrest and music superstars Billie Eilish and Dua Lipa, as they discussed how tech has enabled the creation of a new immersive fan experience.

CES 2021 was truly a global event, with attendees joining from over 150 countries and over 1,300 exhibitors coming from outside the United States, including more than 530 international startups. Country group organizers brought large delegations of exhibitors from Canada, France, Israel, Italy, Japan and South Korea. CES 2021 featured startups from Nigeria and Russia for the first time.

This new online format is allowing CES to extend the life of the show as everything is being kept online for 30 days.

CES 2022 will take place in person in Las Vegas, and digitally, Jan. 5-8, 2022.

To explore the show, visit the digital venue by clicking here.  Reach Gary Shapiro at (703) 907-7600 or gshapiro@cta.tech; Karen Chupka at chupkak@cta.tech; Steve Hill at shill@lvcva.com.