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.
CES UPDATE: After closely monitoring the current trends surrounding COVID, it is in the best interest of the health and safety of our employees, customers, partners, and our communities to suspend all on-site activity in Las Vegas.December 23, 2021
"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.