CES, one of the tech world’s biggest gatherings, will be online-only in 2021 the organisers have confirmed.
The event, normally held in Las Vegas in January, draws many of the biggest technology firms and is seen by many as a curtain-raiser to a year in tech.
But with growing concerns about how long the coronavirus pandemic will last, organisers have said 2021 will be “an all-digital experience”.
It said it was “not possible to safely convene tens of thousands of people”.
In a statement, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which organises CES, said it was “reimagining how to connect exhibitors, customers, thought leaders and media from around the world while prioritising health and safety”.
It joins a list of other high-profile technology conference in going virtual – including Web Summit in November and both this year’s and the 2021 TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference.
The organisers of Mobile World Congress, held in Barcelona in February, are currently still hoping for an in-person event.
Online conferences are both greener and cheaper, but delegates often complain that they miss out on making connections with others.
CTA said that, alongside traditional keynote talks and conferences, it would enable meetings and networking in a “highly personalised experience”.
Mobile analyst Ben Wood, who has attended nine CES conferences, said that it was little surprise that organisers had opted for a virtual format.
“The insurmountable logistical challenges of delivering an in-person event were clear given the global pandemic.
“The decision to hold CES as a digital-only event will send shockwaves through the events world. When one of the largest consumer electronics shows in the world says it is not viable to have a physical event, it sends a strong signal that these types of events will be near-impossible to hold in coming months.”