Uh-Oh! CES 2021 Is Going All Digital

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) announced on Friday that they were canceling their physical show in January and going all digital. 2021 will be the first time, since its inception in 1967, that the show has not physically taken place.

Here is how the CES press release, “CES 2021 Is All-Digital,” states their reasoning. “With the growing global health concerns about the spread of COVID-19, it is not possible to safely convene tens of thousands of people in Las Vegas in early January 2021 to meet and do business in person.”

It is my understanding that CES’s underlying reason for going all digital was that they just didn’t know what was conditions would be like in January.  CES considered it unfair to their vendors to tell them one, two, or even three months out, that the show was cancelled. There is just too much up-front vendor cost in terms of building exhibits, buying plane tickets, securing hotel rooms, etc. only to find out at the last minute that none of it is usable.

The toy industry’s major trade shows, the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair, the New York Toy Fair, the Spielwarenmesse, and various other national shows are going to have to go through the same thought process. I am hopeful, but CES’s decision does not bode well for physical trade shows in the first of the year.

There is one other big question to be answered. CES is the home of cutting edge technology and their virtual show should therefore be state of the art. But how good is the state of the art and If CES is not able to put on a digital show that gets strong positive reviews then who can?


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