Two more auto giants have added their names to the growing list of big companies opting out of an in-person CES with less than a week remaining before kickoff. Yesterday, Mercedes confirmed that it would be skipping the physical event.

“As the health and safety of our customers, partners, employees and guests are our highest priority,” the company said in a statement. “Due to the large group of participants and the different country-specific regulations, a solid, safe and harmless planning for all participants is unfortunately not be feasible in the current situation. We deeply regret this decision but consider it necessary.”

Today, BMW followed suit, issuing a media release, announcing a shift to a virtual press conference. The carmaker’s statement was short and sweet, noting, “For many years, the BMW Group has been presenting innovations at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Due to the pandemic situation, the BMW Group will move all planned media activities at CES to a fully digital program livestreamed from Germany.”

Lidar company Velodyne, meanwhile, issued a full press release about its decision this week, stating:

Velodyne Lidar will not participate in person at CES 2022 due to the surge in COVID-19 infection rates. The health and safety of employees, partners and the public are the topmost priorities for Velodyne and were the primary factors in the company’s decision.

Early today, IBM also confirmed its decision to extract itself from the in-person event in a statement to TechCrunch:

Due to the evolving COVID conditions, and out of an abundance of caution, IBM will not participate on-site at CES in Las Vegas this year. We look forward to participating in the event virtually.

Also newly out is Panasonic, which had planned an in-person press conference for January 4. The company has shifted to a virtual event and will only have a limited presence at the show.

Those companies join GM, Google, Microsoft, AMD, OnePlus, MSI, Lenovo, Intel, T-Mobile, AT&T, Meta, Twitter, Amazon, Proctor & Gamble, TikTok, Pinterest and a number of major media outlets, TechCrunch included. The decision to jump ship over mounting omicron concerns is likely an especially difficult one for startups, who rely on shows like CES to get noticed. I have, however, been contacted by a growing number of smaller companies who have made the difficult decision to stay home.

The Consumer Technology Association — which runs CES — has stood firm in its plans to go ahead with the show, which starts January 5 (with media days on the 3 and 4).

“CES 2022 will be in person on January 5-8 in Las Vegas with strong safety measures in place, and our digital access is also available for people that don’t wish to, or can’t travel to Las Vegas,” the org said in a statement issued December 22. “Our mission remains to convene the industry and give those who cannot attend in person the ability to experience the magic of CES digitally.”

On Christmas Day, the Las Vegas Review Journal ran an op-ed from CTA head Gary Shapiro headlined “CES will and must go on in Las Vegas,” which accused media of “tell[ing] the story only through their lens of drama and big name companies.”





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