Science and Tech


The Pandemic Has Changed The Tech Industry

CES attendance took a huge dip last year — and so did innovation. The tech industry overall has weathered a storm in the past year.
Posted at 8:57 PM, Jan 04, 2023

If necessity is the mother of invention — the COVID-19 pandemic made room for substantial innovation.  

Steve Koenig heads up research for the organizer of CES, The Consumer Technology Association. He says the pandemic changed everything.    

"The British economist Christopher Freeman observed that during periods of crisis and economic downturns, innovation tends to accelerate and even bunch up. And that's certainly what we've seen throughout the season of the pandemic," Koenig said. "The health crisis accelerated innovation at every level of the tech industry. And then really, across every sector of the economy, for very obvious reasons, a lot of that had to do with remote [work]."

That included working from home, remote connections and even food delivery.  

"We've had a lot of cultural shifts and adjustments, as consumers have shifted behaviors as consumer preferences have changed. We've seen a lot of stickiness with with services, a lot of people before the season of the pandemic had never ordered any kind of grocery item, or necessity, online. And now that's quite common. Same thing for food delivery, Grubhub and Uber Eats — a lot of different food delivery," Koenig said. 

With new innovation came new tech challenges. Some companies changed their model to adjust, like an over the counter hearing aid company, which launched a direct to consumer program as the FDA changed its rules on sales.  

"The retail stores closed. So our ability to still sell, and transact was very important," said Justin Miller, Nuheara co-founder. 

But that was only the start. The global chip shortage also impacted hearing aids and pretty much any other tech company. 

Apple Says iPhone Supplies Hurt By Anti-Virus Curbs In China

Apple Says iPhone Supplies Hurt By Anti-Virus Curbs In China

"We now expect lower iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max shipments than we previously anticipated," the company said.


"We saw lead lead times of some of our components blow out to over 90 weeks. 90 weeks! So it became a real challenge then to get orders then to manufacture those orders," Miller said. 

"I think supply is starting to recover and I think in the next one year when we get back to normality," said Dr. Jules Hammond, BEFC co-founder and CEO.

A zero-COVID policy in China led to sustained factory shutdowns — including in manufacturing hubs like Shenzhen, where companies like apple produce iPhones and iPads. Tech giants went elsewhere including India and Vietnam to deliver. 

"I'd say it's kind of in like, the "Stranger Things," the upside down in many ways, yes, very difficult to predict, with such an unstable and just ever changing environment. Fortunately, what we've been able to do is just document as I mentioned, a lot of those behavioral, even cultural shifts," Koenig said. 

CES, the world’s most influential tech show, went completely virtual in 2021 with a scaled back in-person event in 2022 at the height of the omicron variant’s grip. It was a controversial decision. 

"It came down to supporting the very long tail in our industry of small and medium sized businesses, because they absolutely counted on us moving forward, because for many of them, this is this is their shot to address the world with their technology innovation," Koenig said. 

This year organizers expect around 100,000 people to attend the event — up 150% from last year, but still below pre-pandemic peaks. And any one of these booths could be the next game changer.  

"The innovation that we see here at CES, it may be small now. But those small innovations can change the world," Koenig said.