By: Nick Gambino
After last year’s virtual show, CES returned to an in-person event for the first time since 2020. With more than 2,300 companies on-site in Las Vegas exhibiting their products, there were around 45,000 attendees who descended upon the world’s largest gadget show.
While at first glance that figure is impressive, you have to consider that there were close to 180,000 in attendance in 2020. Do the math and that’s about a 75% drop-off. That’s not a little but rather a steep dive off a cliff.
Now, CES did offer a digital attendance option, but those numbers haven’t been revealed. Some attendees noted on social media that the show wasn’t empty but far from the packed event they were used to in earlier years. They even used fewer venues and ended the show a day early, most likely in response to fewer attendees and exhibitors.
None of this stopped CES from seeing the bright side and celebrating the wins of course. After deciding to go ahead with an in-person show 8 months ago, they had to know this was a possibility, so perhaps they baked this scenario into production costs.
“Innovation came to life this week at CES 2022 with technologies that will reshape industries and provide solutions to pressing worldwide issues from healthcare to agriculture, sustainability and beyond,” President and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), Gary Shapiro, said. “The CES show floor buzzed with the joy of human interaction and a five-sense innovation experience with products that will redefine our future and change our world for the better.”
Most of the exhibitors that were there in person were smaller companies as the big names like Samsung, T-Mobile, IBM, Mercedes-Benz, and more pulled out over the last few weeks and would simply maintain a virtual presence for the safety of their employees and consumers.
It goes without saying, all of this is due to the COVID-19 pandemic and especially the spike in U.S. cases thanks to the Omicron variant. Attendees were required to present proof of vaccination and wear masks at all times while indoors, but you can’t help but think it might have been better to cancel the in-person part of the show altogether.
At least, that’s what E3 just did, five months ahead of their show and after announcing their original plan to return in person.