The first-ever, all-digital CES 2021 made history as the largest digital tech event, January 11–14, 2021. Almost 2,000 companies unveiled next-generation innovations for a better future. Owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), CES 2021 featured product launches from start-ups to tech giants.
For more than five decades, CES has been the global stage for technology innovation. This year, the all-digital CES 2021 provided attendees with a virtual front row seat to the technologies that will move the world forward. Moreover, it continued as a platform for product announcements; keynotes from global industry leaders; live entertainment from Hollywood; and more than 100 hours of conference programming that showcased industry leaders sharing their visions for a better future.
“The all-digital CES 2021 engaged the global tech community to experience innovation, make connections as well as conduct business,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA. “CES showed how the pandemic accelerated the arc of innovation as well as illustrated the resilience and innovative spirit of our industry. From the latest innovations for the home and entertainment, and advances in 5G, vehicle technology, AI and digital health, the technologies at CES 2021 will pave the way for a brighter tomorrow.”
All-Digital CES 2021 Opening Keynotes
CES 2021 opened its virtual experience to technology audiences worldwide following a day of media-only conferences and the preshow keynote from Hans Vestberg, Verizon chairman and CEO, on January 11.
Canon at CES 2021
Vestberg shared how the essential qualities of Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network have come to life. They include unparalleled upload and download speeds; enormous capacity and ultra-low lag; support for more connected devices as well as mobile connection; more responsive service deployment; and also a new standard for energy efficiency and reliability.
In addition, he gave updates on various projects and partnerships enabled by 5G Ultra Wideband; they include the Verizon 5G Super Stadium Experience in the NFL app and the transformation of experiencing sports. Verizon is also expanding the museum experience with 5G and immersive art experiences with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Furthermore, its partnership with UPS and Skyward will support a nationwide drone delivery network.
On January 12, Mary Barra, General Motors chairman and CEO, presented the official opening keynote address. Barra shared a closer look at GM’s transformational strategy to advance mobility for communities around the world. Laying the foundation for an all-electric future is just the beginning for GM.
Live Anchor Desk Guides Attendees through Digital Experience
Following Barra’s keynote, CES proceeded to provide attendees with a highly personalized show experience. A live anchor desk served as a “home base” to guide audiences through the digital experience. It was a true broadcast experience, bringing the latest CES news and highlights. Anchors included Justine Ezarik (iJustine), host/tech content creator; Rich DeMuro, tech reporter for KTLA-TV Channel 5 in Los Angeles, California; Naomi Kyle, host and producer; and Brian Tong; tech host and content creator.
The anchor desk also featured interviews with top industry leaders and visionaries. For instance, on hand were entrepreneur Mark Cuban; musician and tech entrepreneur will.i.am; HRH Constantijn van Oranje,The Netherlands; Shelley Zalis, Female Quotient and CES Official Equality Partner; and leaders from a variety of tech companies.
Speakers Shed Light on the Tech Future
Additional keynote addresses at CES 2021 included the following:
- AMD: Dr Lisa Su, president and CEO of AMD, revealed the new Ryzen 5000 series mobile processors with two categories. They are the H series for laptops intended for gaming and content creation and the U series, for ultraportable notebooks.
- Best Buy: Corie Barry, CEO of Best Buy, shared how the company shifted during the pandemic and put the customer in control of buying, whether from home, curbside or in person.
- Future Reimagined: Michael Miebach, CEO of Mastercard, and Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture, predicted tech trends for the next decade.
- Walmart: Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart, discussed ways 5G, AI and robotics will change the business. He also addressed how Walmart pivoted to keep employees healthy and customers satisfied, as well as the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
- Microsoft: Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, gave his vision on ensuring cyber security and customer privacy protection. He also discussed the consumer technology industry’s responsibility to exercise conscience.
- Entertainment Transformed: Michael Kassan, chairman and CEO of MediaLink, and Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, described the ever-evolving entertainment industry. Moreover, they shared what the industry will look like in a post-pandemic world. Maverick Carter, CEO of the Springhill Co.; Adrienne Lofton, vice president, North America Marketing, Nike; and Deborah Wahl, global CMO of General Motors, also discussed how marketers and brands are adjusting and creating in today’s landscape.
“The pandemic forced us to take a step back from a traditional CES, throw out the playbook and transform how we’d bring the tech community together,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA. “CES looks different this year, but the foundation of the show—innovation, connection, collaboration—remains strong and consistent. The digital transformation will continue for years, even as we return to Las Vegas in 2022. We have seen the value of connecting digitally and we can welcome even more people from around the world.”
Another highlight was CTA’s Steve Koenig and Lesley Rohrbaugh presenting the 2021 Tech Trends to Watch. It was an exclusive preview of the U.S. Consumer Technology One-Year Industry Forecast. Koenig and Rohrbaugh shared that retail sales revenue for the technology industry will reach $461 billion in the U.S. in 2021; that’s a 4.3% increase year-over-year. Furthermore, as millions of Americans remain home and rely on tech to stay entertained, connected and healthy during the pandemic, streaming services, 5G connectivity and digital health devices will stand out in the tech sector in 2021.
In addition, government leaders and policymakers from the U.S. and around the globe participated in CES 2021. They shared their insights into the future of innovation. Policymakers included Brian Dreese, director-designate of the U.S. National Economic Council for the incoming Biden administration.
CES 2021 was truly a global event; attendees joined from 150+ countries and more than 1,300 exhibitors came from outside the U.S. Almost 2,000 companies unveiled next-generation innovations for a better future.
Registered attendees can continue to explore the CES 2021 digital venue and see keynotes, conference sessions, product announcements as well as show floor coverage.
Access to on-demand content is available through February 15, 2021.
Finally, CES 2022 will take place in person in Las Vegas, Nevada, as well as digitally, January 5–8, 2022.