Mobile World Congress which is held in Barcelona, Spain annually, has officially been canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus threat. MWC is one of the largest events for the mobile industry and is known to attract more than 100,000 visitors from all over the world. With the virus known to be highly contagious, the GSM Association decided to cancel the event and prioritize the health and safety of all persons involved.
The 2019 novel coronavirus was first reported in the Hubei province in China and more specifically in Wuhan. According to WHO’s latest situation report, more than 45,000 cases of coronavirus has been confirmed all around the world since the disease first came to light, about 44,000 of which reside in China. The death toll is currently at 1,115 with only one death occurring outside of China.
Before its cancellation, the MWC, which was to be held from February 24-27, had announced higher security and disinfection measures to assure the safety of all presenters and attendees. This included a ban on visitors from the Hubei province in China as well as visitors who have been in any part of China for the past 14 days. But in the GSM Association’s latest statement said that it would be “impossible” to push through with the event due to the severity of the disease.
It reads, “With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country today, the GSMA has cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event.”
This year’s event was expected to highlight 5G. With that said, it was expected that Chinese companies such as Huawei, Oppo, Xiaomi, and ZTE would all have a prominent presence. Being that MWC is the place where brands take to make announcements and launches, according to Futuresource analyst, Stephan Mars, the cancellation of MWC will take its toll on the industry’s marketing efforts.
A number of companies had already pulled out of the event even before its cancellation due to the coronavirus scare. These included big companies such as Amazon, Ericsson, Nokia, LG, Sony, and even Facebook. These companies, instead, are planning new events and launches for devices that were meant for MWC.
Fortunately, GSMA is in the processing of organizing other events. Mobile World Congress Shanghai is expected to take place in June and July while Mobile World Congress Los Angeles is slated to happen in October. In the past, neither of these events has been nearly as impactful as the annual Barcelona event.