Lenovo to ‘suspend’ in-person CES business as more exhibitors embrace omicron’s caution – TechCrunch

Update: Waymo has officially added its name to the list, becoming one of the first notable car companies to do so. In a blog post, the Alphabet affiliate noted, “Based on rapidly increasing COVID-19 infection rates, Waymo has made the difficult decision not to attend CES 2022 in person. We We are still aiming to participate in some CES-related events virtually.”

The list of exhibitors pulling out of an in-person CES was small but mighty yesterday. What it lacked, however, was a big name on the hardware side. Yesterday, Google, HTC, John Deere, TCL and BMW all confirmed to TechCrunch that they were still there for the big Vegas event, while “continuing to monitor the situation”. Samsung, meanwhile, released a press release around its in-person keynote.

We were, at the time, still awaiting news from a handful of big names, including Lenovo. This morning, the PC giant confirmed that it will be “pausing” in-person activities at the Consumer Electronics Show. Following an announcement on Twitter, the company tells TechCrunch in a statement:

After closely monitoring current trends surrounding COVID, it is in the interest of the health and safety of our employees, customers, partners and our communities to suspend all on-site activity in Las Vegas. While this is a change of plans, we’re thrilled that you’re all seeing our latest technology launch as planned on January 4th and 5th.

Yesterday we noted similarities to Mobile World Congress, which had the misfortune to hold an event in Barcelona as the first wave of COVID-19 hit Europe in 2020. Once major hardware players have started to recede, it was the beginning of the end for that year’s show. There have been some big names for CES so far – most notable on the sponsor side is T-Mobile, later followed by fellow CES, which opted to “opt out of in-person attendance” at the show.

A number of outlets – including us – made similar announcements, as did Meta, Twitter, Amazon, TikTok and Pinterest. While all the big names, none have traditionally had a major presence at the hardware show. Lenovo, on the other hand, is a big player in the space.

Last night, the CTA – the governing body of the event – ​​remained steadfast, telling TechCrunch: “Given the comprehensive health measures from CES – vaccination requirement, masking and availability of COVID-19 testing – coupled with a drop in attendance and social distancing measures, we are confident that attendees and exhibitors can have a socially distant yet interesting and productive event in Las Vegas, as well as a rewarding experience on our digital access.

The organization also cites a limited number of cancellations so far. You can’t draw an exact parallel with the MWC – certainly things surrounding the pandemic are different than they were nearly two years ago. We know a lot more about its transmission and have since seen the arrival of several vaccines and – in many places – boosters. In particular, CTA has been transparent about its health protocols, including vaccination mandates.

Omicron, meanwhile, while raging in parts of the United States, could have a silver lining in its relative severity, according to some early numbers. Many questions remain, however, including a likely increase in the number of vacation trips just before the big event in Vegas. An abundance of caution is understandable, and Lenovo likely won’t be the last company to change its plans.

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