Things get worse for CES 2022 as Google, Lenovo, and Intel confirm they won’t be hitting the show floor

The biggest tech conference of the year is falling apart, but Gary Shapiro still believes the show will go on.

Shortly after the first wave of companies exited the in-person portion of CES 2022, a second collection of brands have also confirmed plans to either reduce the significance of their in-person presence in Las Vegas or completely pull out altogether.

Google, Lenovo, Amazon, Waymo, AT&T, and Hisense have all recently confirmed that they will no longer hold any in-person exhibits during next year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Google is certainly one of the larger blows to the show, given how huge their booth typically is. The company confirmed its stance on the matter in a statement to TechCrunch.

After careful consideration we have decided to withhold from having a presence on the show floor of CES 2022. We’ve been closely monitoring the development of the Omicron variant, and have decided that this is the best choice for the health and safety of our teams. We will continue to collaborate closely with both CTA and our partners to identify and support virtual opportunities, and we look forward to sharing the latest Google innovations with you all.

Meanwhile, Lenovo clarified its plans in a tweet.

Intel also told Tom’s Hardware it’s changing up how it’s approaching CES 2022 by making everything primarily online and only having a few in-person staffers at the show.

On Thursday, GM also confirmed it will be switching to an all-digital format for the show. “We have decided to move to an all-digital approach with our activation at CES 2022 in January,” the company said in a statement. “CES is an important technology platform, and we are continuing with our plans on January 5 to share our significant company news including the reveal of the Chevrolet Silverado EV.”

GM was originally scheduled to host a big press conference, while its CEO Mary Barra was slotted as a keynote speaker during the show.

Other companies like Samsung, LG, Microsoft, Canon, Razer, Nvidia, and Sony have yet to confirm whether they’ll also be pulling out of the in-person portion of CES, and if they do, it won’t come as a surprise. We’ve already seen T-Mobile, Meta, Pinterest, Twitter, and iHeartRatio pledge to not send anyone out west to represent their respective companies in-person, and a number of media outlets have confirmed they’ll be covering the show remotely.

If companies continue pulling out of CES at the rate they are, we could be looking at the same fate Mobile World Congress faced in 2020 just as COVID-19 was picking up steam around the world. Enough big-name tech companies decided to not attend the show, and the organizers of MWC had to make the decision to cancel the event after confirming time and time again the show would go on.

Consumer Technology Association president Gary Shapiro confirmed to Barron’s on Wednesday that CES still plans to have an in-person element in conjunction with its digital experience. “Fewer than a few dozen companies canceled (several for country travel restrictions), yet 61 additional companies have signed on to exhibit since Friday,” Shapiro said. “CES is an essential business event which can make or break a year, especially for small- and midsize companies. I am hearing from many of these companies begging us to go forward.”

Given how quickly things seem to be evolving, expect more news on pull-outs and other cancelations concerning the event in the coming days.

Update Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021 at 4:47 pm: Updated to included Google’s exiting of the CES 2022 show floor.

Update Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021 at 4:25 pm: Updated to included GM’s stance on CES 2022.