CES 2022 touts more exhibitors as Intel, T-Mobile, others drop out over COVID-19 – CNET

Science & Technology

The big consumer electronics show in Las Vegas will still take place, even as more than 40 exhibitors have canceled, says the organizer.
With COVID cases surging, companies are backing out of attending CES in person.
CES 2022 on Thursday lost Google, the latest company to confirm the cancellation of its in-person plans to be in Las Vegas for the tech trade show and to shift to a virtual presence. The search company and its sister company Waymo join T-Mobile, Intel, Lenovo, TikTok, Meta and many others making such a change over concerns about the uptick in coronavirus cases and the omicron variant. 
“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,” a Google spokesperson said regarding the withdrawal.
Despite the lengthening list of departing exhibitors, the Consumer Technology Association, which runs CES, said Thursday that additional exhibitors have signed up for physical space on the show floor.
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“While we recently received 42 exhibitor cancellations (less than 7% of our exhibit floor),” the CTA said, “since last Friday we’ve added 60 new exhibitors for our in person event.” Though higher-profile companies are announcing withdrawals, the CTA emphasized that the confab’s show floor also plays host to small and medium-size companies. Past attendees looking for that exposure have included startups with specialized computer technology and firms that produce pizza-making robots
But the spread of the omicron variant and the rise in COVID-19 cases are still making many people uneasy. The CTA pointed out its vaccination and masking requirements and COVID testing availability for those attending the physical show, but an increasing number of companies plan to go digital only.
On Tuesday, T-Mobile said that CEO Mike Sievert is no longer scheduled to deliver a keynote presentation either in person or virtually and that the company is planning to “significantly limit” its physical presence at the show. 
T-Mobile said the “vast majority” of its team wouldn’t be heading to Vegas, though the company will remain as a sponsor. “We are prioritizing the safety of our team and other attendees with this decision,” the carrier said in a statement. “T-Mobile’s entire team looks forward to an in-person CES 2023, which we hope includes an on-stage keynote in front of a live audience.”
Meta and Twitter, meanwhile, also said they’d decided not to attend in person. 
Meta said it’ll still participate in the event virtually but that “out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees, we won’t be attending CES in-person due to the evolving public health concerns related to COVID-19.”
Twitter said in a statement that it holds “the safety and health of our people and our partners as our #1 priority. With that in mind, due to the spike in COVID cases across the country in the past week, we’ve decided to cancel our in-person presence at CES next month.”
On Wednesday, TikTok and AT&T followed, with the social media company announcing that its CES presence will now be a virtual experience and the carrier saying it’s ditching on-site attendance.
“In light of the increase in positive COVID-19 cases across the country, TikTok has decided to host a virtual TikTok CES experience for our brands and partners,” the company said.
An AT&T spokesperson said that “the health and safety of our employees and customers is a top priority, so we have decided to forgo in-person participation at CES 2022.”
On Thursday, Lenovo joined in, saying it had decided to put the kibosh on its in-person activities for the show, and Intel confirmed its own change in plans, saying it’ll scale down its presence. “After consulting with health officials and in the spirit of Intel’s safety policy, our plans for CES will move to a digital-first, live experience, with minimal on-site staff,” Intel said.
Amazon and Pinterest have also dropped out of attending CES in person, while an Nvidia spokesperson said the company has been “cautious from the start” and is set to deliver a virtual address on Jan. 4 at 8 a.m. PT.
Citing the health and safety of its employees, an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement that “due to the quickly shifting situation and uncertainty around the omicron variant, we will no longer have an on-site presence at CES.” A spokesperson for Ring, Amazon’s home security subsidiary, issued an identical statement.
The decisions follow the US reaching the grim milestone of 800,000 COVID-19 deaths, according to numbers from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. With the emergence of the highly infectious omicron variant — which is now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the US — cases are rapidly on the rise again. 
The CTA said it feels that with vaccination and masking requirements; availability of COVID-19 tests; and social distancing measures and lower attendance, the event can go on. CES 2022 is scheduled to take place virtually and in person from Jan. 5 to 8.
Several companies will still be holding press conferences the day before the show starts, including some firms that aren’t planning to have a physical presence at the confab. CNET will be livestreaming these on our main YouTube page and CNET Highlights YouTube page as part of our CES 2022 coverage. The current schedule for that press day follows.
CES 2022 press day, Jan. 4 (all times are Pacific):
7 a.m.: AMD and TCL
8 a.m. LG Electronics and Nvidia
9 a.m.: Hisense
10 a.m.: Intel
11 a.m.: Qualcomm
12 p.m.: John Deere
1 p.m.: Canon
2 p.m.: Ottonomy
3 p.m.: Hyundai
5 p.m.: Sony
6:30 p.m.: Samsung