By Mike Murphy
More and more companies switching gears to virtual-presence only due to fast-spreading omicron
CES 2022 lost more major participants Thursday due to growing COVID-19 concerns, but the organizers of the world's largest tech conference vowed to carry on.
Alphabet Inc.'s (GOOGL)(GOOGL) Google and Waymo, Intel Corp. (INTC), Lenovo Group Ltd. and General Motors Co. (GM) are the latest to cancel their in-person presence at CES, which is scheduled to be held the first week in January. The companies said they will proceed with all-digital, virtual presentations.
"Based on quickly rising COVID-19 infection rates, Waymo has made the difficult decision not to participate in person at CES 2022," Alphabet's self-driving car unit said Thursday in a statement. Google later said in a statement that it, too, will not have an in-person presence.
Intel also cited COVID concerns. "The health and safety of our employees, partners and customers is always a top priority. 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," the chip maker said in a statement Thursday.
GM on Thursday said it has "decided to move to an all-digital approach," though CEO Mary Barra will still make a keynote speech Jan. 5, and the auto maker will reveal the Chevrolet Silverado EV in a digital presentation.
Lenovo bowed out Wednesday night.
T-Mobile USA (TMUS) it will remain a CES sponsor, but will drastically reduce its in-person presence, the telecom company said in a statement Tuesday, adding that CEO Mike Sievert will no longer deliver a keynote address.
Despite the rash of cancelations, Consumer Technology Association President Gary Shapiro said in a statement Thursday that the show will go on. "Given CES's comprehensive health measures -- vaccination requirement, masking and availability of COVID-19 tests -- coupled with lower attendance and social distancing measures, we are confident that attendees and exhibitors can have a socially distanced but worthwhile and productive event in Las Vegas, or while experiencing it online," he said.
Shapiro noted more than 2,000 companies will still participate in person, and CES expects 50,000 to 75,000 attendees at the Las Vegas event. It will require attendees to be vaccinated and to wear masks.
Last year, the pandemic forced CES to go entirely online.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 23, 2021 22:36 ET (03:36 GMT)
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