World Mobile Congress might not hold this year because of Coronavirus.

Yearly, the most famous names in the mobile industry head to Mobile World Congress to show off their latest tech and launch new products.

This year’s iteration of the world’s biggest phone show, Mobile World Congress, has been canceled, just a few weeks before it was to kick off in Barcelona, Spain, on February 24. 

Many of the show’s exhibitors retreated over the past week due to coronavirus fears, and this was even before the cancellation. So far, the list comprises companies like Amazon, LG, NVIDIA, Sony, Vivo, Ericcson, Intel, and MediaTek and more. 

This move to cancel is a very big deal for a gathering that hosted 109,000 visitors in 2019 coming from 198 different countries. In 2020, MWC was expected to bring in even more visitors, with estimates of attendance exceeding over 110,000 this year. Canceling the convention would also lead to substantial financial losses estimated at 492 million euros or around $537 million.

The industry body behind MWC, the GSMA Association, likewise attributed its decision to scrap the event to concerns about the health and safety of attendees. 

The association said in a statement that “With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country today, the GSMA has canceled 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.” GSMA represents about 1,2000 companies from across the mobile industry. 

“The Host City Parties respect and understand this decision. The GSMA and the Host City Parties will continue to be working in unison and supporting each other for MWC Barcelona 2021 and future editions. Our sympathies at this time are with those affected in China, and all around the world.”

A lot of people are beginning to question the essence of the Mobile World Congress at all. This is because it is evident that if all the big tech names refuse to participate, then there would be no conference at all. Most of the attendees will also opt to stay in their various homes in order to stay safe rather than going out to expose themselves to possible harm.

It is even becoming more evident that the convention might not hold as La Vanguardia, the GSMA body that organizes MWC is supposedly going to be having a meeting on February 14, 2020, to discuss whether or not Mobile World Congress should be canceled. However, the GSMA has not officially announced this and has no official comment on the meeting has been mentioned.

Stephen Mears, a research analyst at Futuresource, says that the possible cancellation of the event due to coronavirus will create and present a range of short- and medium-term challenges to the smartphone industry this year, and could have far-reaching outcomes going forth.”

“In the immediate term, the cancellation of MWC is the removal of a major marketing opportunity for several hundred exhibitors looking to raise the profile of their products and company. For larger companies, such as Huawei and Samsung, the cancellation of MWC is an absorbable cost, but again removes a major marketing opportunity for their latest devices and network solutions, while the deal-making that goes on behind closed doors will be delayed.”

At Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.’s Unpacked event yesterday, the company reportedly used thermal cameras to detect attendees who may be ill and distributed hand sanitizer. This is to show that the coronavirus outbreak is also casting a shadow over other tech industry events.

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