In brief: CES 2022 starts in exactly two weeks (January 5), but a surge in Covid-19 cases and the looming threat of the Omicron variant has seen several big names pull out, including Amazon, Meta (Facebook), Twitter, and Pinterest. Nvidia, meanwhile, is planning mostly digital showcases, while AMD and T-Mobile will have a limited presence.
While CES 2020 was one of the last big events to be held in-person, CES 2021 was digital-only. The organizers said that 2022 would be a hybrid show with in-person and digital elements, and attendees must show proof of their Covid-19 vaccination.
But it seems the precautions are not enough for some companies, especially in light of Omicron. Amazon told Bloomberg that it would no longer have a physical presence at the show due to the "quickly shifting situation and uncertainty around the Omicron variant," and neither will subsidiary Ring.
Facebook parent Meta has also decided that attending in person isn't worth the risk. "Out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees, we won't be attending CES in-person due to the evolving public health concerns related to Covid-19," it said. Twitter is also avoiding the show, as is Pinterest.
Even T-Mobile, one of CES' main sponsors, is significantly limiting its in-person presence. "While 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," the wireless carrier said in a statement.
Elsewhere, Nvidia, which said it has been "cautious from the start," confirmed its press conference is virtual-only, while AMD said its presence would be limited---team red's livestream isn't part of CES.
Many other companies are still attending, including Samsung, Sony, Alphabet, and Qualcomm, though some say they continue to "monitor" the situation.
What's concerning is how this is starting to resemble Mobile World Congress in 2020, when several big names pulled out before the event was finally canceled. However, it's likely that the same fate won't befall CES 2022. The worst it could experience is the entire show becoming a fully virtual event in the same way as CES 2021.