More than 150 companies have decided against an in-person presence during next week’s Consumer Electronics Show, Protocol has confirmed. The latest companies to cancel their show floor presence include IBM, Mitsubishi and Mercedes-Benz, which all announced Wednesday and Thursday that they would switch to virtual formats.
The dramatic rise of omicron cases across the globe has prompted a number of companies to bow out of CES: 153 companies are currently marked as “DO,” or digital only, in the official CES exhibitor directory. A CES spokesperson confirmed via email that companies with a DO code wouldn’t be participating in person, but said that over 2200 companies would still be present in Vegas.
Many of the companies marked as “DO” had previously booked booth space, only to cancel in recent days. Some of the high-profile companies marked as “DO” include AMD, Analog Devices, GM, HP, Mercedes-Benz, Nikon and Mitsubishi, which all recently pulled out of the in-person component of the event.
Mercedes-Benz AG announced late Wednesday that it was pulling out of the show. “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 [...] feasible in the current situation,” the company said in a statement to CNET. “We deeply regret this decision but consider it necessary.”
IBM announced Thursday that it would be switching to a virtual format as well, while BMW told The Verge that it would switch its press conference to a live stream. Mitsubishi Electric also announced Thursday that it will only be participating virtually. Previously-announced cancellations include Amazon, Google, GM and Waymo.
To keep in-person attendees interested in the event, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) announced Thursday that it is opening up its on-site conference programming to all in-person attendees free of charge. Attendees who previously purchased a pass for the conference will be reimbursed, CTA said in a statement published on its website.