Samsung stays put as omicron scares away big-name exhibitors at CES 2022
Seoul (South Korea), December 24: Samsung Electronics Co. said Friday that it still plans to participate in the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) early next month, even though major brands backed out as the omicron variant of the coronavirus drives a surge in infection cases in the United States.
Samsung said there is no change in its on-site presence, especially as its new CEO Han Jong-hee is set to present the company's vision for and direction of technological development through his keynote speech.
The world's biggest consumer electronics show, slated for Jan. 5-8 in Las Vegas, will serve as a prominent stage for Han to make his global debut as the new chief of the tech giant since he took office earlier this month.
Even if Han cancels his physical attendance at the last minute, there will be an in-person presence, however minimal, at the company's booth, a Samsung official who is familiar with the matter said, adding that a decision, if any, could be made next week.
This week, big American companies, such as T-mobile, Google, Facebook's parent company Meta, AT&T, Amazon and Twitter, among others, said they are canceling in-person participation at the show.
The latest company, which notably ditched its physical attendance, was General Motors, even though its CEO Mary Barra was scheduled to make a preshow keynote speech. The speech will now be made online, the company said Thursday.
T-Mobile CEO Mike Siever, who was also among the keynote speakers, said on Twitter on Wednesday that the company decided to opt out of the show for "the safety of our team and other attendees."
The company said in a press release it will "significantly limit our in-person participation" and its CEO "will no longer be offering a keynote in-person or virtually."
"Based on quickly rising COVID-19 infection rates, Waymo has made the difficult decision not to participate in person at CES 2022," Waymo, Google's self-driving auto-technology company, said on the company's official blog.
"The safety and well-being of our team is on the top of our mind," it said.
Lenovo also said Thursday it will suspend "all on-site activity in Las Vegas" on its official Twitter page, because "It is in the best interest of the health and safety of our employees, customers, partners and our communities."
Many South Korean companies are sticking with the wait-and-see approach, while some have already scaled back their on-site presence.
LG Electronics Inc. said it will run its floor showcase with limited on-site employees, adding that it will combine "physical and digital elements" to deliver new experiences to its global audience, with the help of a self-guided tour using QR codes and advanced virtual and augmented reality technologies.
SK hynix Inc. said the company and its parent SK Group still have no plan to change their in-person presence at the show.
"The size of attendance has grown from last year, as a few eco-friendly affiliates will join next year's event," a company official told Yonhap News Agency. "As you might know, the group's chairman is attending as electric cars and semiconductors are currently hot topics in the industry."
SK Group, one of the biggest South Korean conglomerates, runs a number of businesses ranging from telecommunications, energy and electric batteries to semiconductors.
"A decision could be made to scale back the size of the attendees sometime next week as there is great uncertainty," the official said.