THE DAILY SCOPE, 12/23/21:Within the past few days, a slew of major companies including Amazon, Twitter, Pinterest, Lenovo, NVIDIA, Pinterest, TikTok, T-Mobile, AT&T, Waymo, iHeartRadio, and Meta have decided to withdraw their physical presence from CES 2022 over growing concerns about the latest variant of Covid-19. Today, Hisense followed suit. “Due to the recent spike in the Omicron variant, Hisense has made the decision to move the January 4 press conference fully virtual to ensure the health and safety of our team,” an updated email invite announced. In addition, many major tech news outlets, including CNET, Engadget, TechCrunch, TechRadar, Tom’s Guide, and The Verge, have announced that they will not be covering CES 2022 in person this year, though they will be covering it virtually.
These decisions come on the heels of the United States crossing over the threshold of 800,000 COVID -19 related deaths according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Yesterday, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) released a statement confirming its commitment to holding CES 2022 in person on January 5-8 in Las Vegas despite the high-profile cancellations, and companies such as LG, OnePlus, Panasonic, and Sony are still – for now, at least – planning to attend in person, albeit with reduced presences. And Pepcom, the organization that runs CE press events at CES 2022 and other trade shows, just today reconfirmed that its in-person event will take place as scheduled on January 4th at The Mirage, “out of an abundance of innovation,” with 120 brands still confirmed to demo products in person.
The CTA says that CES 2022 can be conducted safely with mandated precautions, which include vaccination requirements, mask mandates, and a negative COVID-19 test 24 hours before the event. According to the CTA press release, 42 exhibitors, comprising 7 percent of the exhibition floor, have pulled out in recent days, though so far the “spate” of cancellation announcements seems to have subsided. The CTA has added more than 60 new exhibitors to fill the gap left behind from these no-shows. However, there are about 10 days to go until CES 2022 officially opens, and with this rapidly changing Omicron landscape, anything is possible. We will just have to wait and see what CES 2022 looks like.
Consumer electronics is a space that thrives off of consumer interaction with the product since purchases of specialty electronics and appliances tend to be larger and more thought out. That’s why, for retailers, getting consumers to see a product in-store versus online is extremely beneficial. Foot traffic is key to these types of purchases, which is why the rise of the Omicron variant has been highly detrimental to retail. According to Sensormatic Solutions, a company that tracks traffic to retailers, foot traffic in the U.S. decreased 26.3% on Super Saturday (December 18) compared to 2019. This hit during the busiest season of retail comes as retailers are getting no relief from rent and overhead costs.
In other news, musicians are getting hit with a bout of nostalgia for the sound of cassette audio, which has prompted Tascam, an audio solutions provider to the music industry, to release the Tascam’s 424 Studio Master High Bias Type II Cassette, a revival of the reference-quality tapes designed for the brand’s decades-old 144 Portastudio four-track portable pro studio mixer and recorder. According to Tascam, it is the only company on the market making High Bias Type II cassettes. While there are certainly still tapes of this variety already in existence, they are both expensive and rare today. Demand for these cassettes still exists as many of today’s digital recordings are recorded partially in analog to give tracks the deeper tones that some musicians feel aren’t provided by digital recordings. The new 424 Studio Master High Bias Type II Cassette may not be exactly the same as the classic tapes – they are made with a 3D printer with current magnetic oxides – but they are likely as good if not better than, say, original cassettes that have been in storage for decades. Steve Stepp, President of National Audio Company, said in the company’s press release, “The recording bias and equalization settings for this tape are as near a match for Portastudios as possible with materials available in 2021.”
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