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As Companies Back Out, CES Head Says Chip Shortage to Blame (Updated)

CES 2020 Registration Tent
(Image credit: Future)

Update: Dec. 23, 7:01 p.m. ET: Gary Shapiro, head of the Consumer Technology Association, says his claims regarding the chip shortage being the leading cause for vendor cancelations occurred on Dec. 8. The interview published by several local Las Vegas news sources, was dated as occurring this week. "No one thought Omicron would come so fast,” Shapiro told a Tom’s Hardware editor over Twitter. The original story continues below.

CES 2022, which was supposed to be a return to an in-person show for the biggest technology conference in the world, is slowly losing attendees.  A number of exhibitors, including Lenovo, AT&T, T-Mobile, Amazon and Facebook parent company Meta have dropped out.

But Gary Shapiro, the head of the Consumer Technology Association, which runs CES, isn't blaming COVID-19 and the highly virulent Omicron variant. Instead, he's pointing at the ongoing chip shortage.

"It’s, I think, probably produced more cancellations of exhibitors than anything having to do with COVID(-19) at this point,” he told the Associated Press on Monday, December 20th.

He claimed in the interview that some companies were unable to get prototypes or other hardware to show off. And that may be true; 2021 has been filled with companies having issues getting enough products on shelves to fulfill demand because of issues in the supply chain. Just look at the PlayStation 5 or the best GPUs.

But the companies that have pulled out publicly have almost all pointed to the state of the ongoing pandemic.

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"After closely monitoring the current trends surrounding COVID, it is int he best interest of the health and safety of our employees, customers, partners and our communities to suspend all on-site activity in Las Vegas," Lenovo wrote on its corporate Twitter account Wednesday night, days after Shapiro had already given his interview.

AT&T told Axios reporter Ina Fried that it was dropping out because "the health and safety of our employees is a top priority." In a press release, T-Mobile wrote that "[w]hile we are confident that CES organizers are taking exhaustive measures to protect in-person attendees and we had many preventative practices in place as well, we are prioritizing the safety of our team and other attendees with this decision." By pulling out, T-Mobile's CEO, Mike Sievert, also gave up on his keynote spot, which will not have a virtual alternative.

It's unclear which companies may have pulled out due to the chip shortage. We've reached out to CES organizers for more information.

The CTA is currently claiming that over 2,100 companies will attend CES 2022, including GM, Google, Qualcomm, Samsung, Intel, AMD and more. As of this writing, Lenovo is still listed as a "featured exhibitor."

Beyond exhibitors, a number of major press outlets have also dropped plans to attend the show in person. Those include Tom's Hardware, Engadget, CNET, PCMag and The Verge, among others.

CES 2022 will take place from Jan. 5 through Jan. 8, 2022. All attendees must be vaccinated with a vaccine either approved by the Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization. Tests will be distributed at certain badge pickup points, but CES organizers are only recommending, not mandating, testing prior to attending.

Andrew E. Freedman

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex. among others. Follow him on Twitter: @FreedmanAE

  • -Fran-
    Well, the way he comments on it, it does sound plausible and the Companies are using COVID as a scapegoat.

    As always, the truth may be somewhere in the middle. I don't think most of the people involved in actually traveling would feel safe traveling during a second outbreak and having little to nothing to show for it to attendees.

    Regards.
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    I would say Covid has SOMETHING to do with it. It's a pain in the butt to travel and with Omicron causing a fresh wave of lockdowns and restrictions, there's little reason for companies to invest in sending people there, especially as virtual presentations have come a long way in a very short time for anyone to access from home or work.

    Another part may be the chip shortage, but I would also think there's a third part in it that there's not -really- anything revolutionary coming out next year. Phones aren't going to be that much better, 5G is still going to be as limited as it was this year, Zen 4 won't be out until late 2022, next generation video cards won't be out until late 2022 or even 2023 and even then they're going to be horrendously expensive, TVs aren't going to be any different, no new video game consoles next year...it's all just so boring there's nothing to show, in my opinion anyway, compared to having their own launch events online close to when they do release.
    Reply
  • korekan
    nah just company excuse because they dont have anything new. even alder lake might still need 3-6 months before entering the market as a complete line from lower to the top.
    with withdraw they can cut cost.

    for example. every our banking customer cut cost really big during covid. their budget reduced to half. kinda insane. our companies need to give a profit margin cut also to keep our business going. no salary raise for 2 years already. sad.
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    korekan said:
    nah just company excuse because they dont have anything new. even alder lake might still need 3-6 months before entering the market as a complete line from lower to the top.
    with withdraw they can cut cost.

    for example. every our banking customer cut cost really big during covid. their budget reduced to half. kinda insane. our companies need to give a profit margin cut also to keep our business going. no salary raise for 2 years already. sad.

    Well even then DDR5 won't be on the market in mass quantities until late next year according to the manufacturers so there's no rush to get that out.
    Reply
  • VforV
    and the highly virulent Omicron variant
    It's good to know that this site also follows "the narrative" to the letter...
    Reply