As CES 2022 approaches, tech companies begin backpedalling

Next year's Consumer Electronics Show seems to be shrinking as companies and media outlets pull out of in-person interactions due to COVID-19.

Full disclosure: I still plan to have boots on the ground to cover CES 2022, the first major technology conference to be held in-person since CES 2020. I’ve got my plane tickets, my hotel reservation, and my registration complete for the show, but it doesn’t look like very much of anything will be on display.

That’s because various companies have begun cutting back on how large a presence they each have, with some pulling out of the show completely. Namely, Meta (formerly Facebook), Pinterest, Twitter, and iHeartRatio have all confirmed they won’t offer anything in-person during the Las Vegas-based show, instead opting for the conference’s digital alternative to deliver any announcements they have.

Similarly, T-Mobile has confirmed that it won’t have a large presence whatsoever, with CEO Mike Sievert confirming he will no longer deliver the show’s keynote.

Notably, these are only the companies that have made official comments about their plans. Companies like Google, Samsung, and Sony are still intending to attend CES 2022 in-person, although that could change in a matter of days or mere hours depending on how things shake out.

The reason behind the show’s collapsing stems back to the pandemic. No one has any clue what the new omicron variant of COVID-19 will do next, and out of an abundance of caution, many of the most headline-generating companies have decided to keep everyone home and as safe as possible.

Media outlets have also decided not to send reporters to the show, instead opting for remote coverage similar to CES 2021 which was completely digital. Outlets include big names like CNET, The Verge, Engadget, CNN Underscored, The New York TimesWirecutter, TechRadar, TechCrunch, Tom’s Guide, and more.

This follows the Consumer Technology Association confirming new health guidelines for the in-person portion of CES 2022, which includes mask mandates throughout the conference and a vaccination requirement in order to obtain your CES badge.

Today, the CTA confirmed it’s plans to move forward with an in-person show, but as conditions continue to evolve and more companies choose to stick with digital experiences, it remains unclear whether CES 2022 will actually happen (at least in Vegas).

Until a determination is made, you can plan on seeing in-person coverage from me no matter how small the show gets.