This year’s Mobile World Congress — which was slated to kick off on February 27, has officially been cancelled by GSMA due to ongoing concerns regarding the coronavirus. In a statement provided to Bloomberg, GSMA CEO John Hoffman said that holding the trade show this year would be “impossible” given that the virus is still spreading.
MWC is the largest mobile trade show in the world and is where some of the biggest names in tech traditionally show off their latest and greatest products. And while the event takes place in Barcelona, the potential for infections to spread was so great as to make holding the conference untenable.
On a related note, a report from earlier today relayed that the coronavirus might end up slowing down mass production on the iPhone 12 on account of factory closings.
While the coronavirus originated in China, the number of countries where infections have been reported has continued to increase over the past few weeks. As it stands now, more than 25 countries have confirmed coronavirus infections, with the World Health Organization noting that presents a “very grave threat for the rest of the world.” To date, more than 1,100 people have died on account of the virus while more than 45,000 people have been infected, most of whom reside in China.
Update: The GSMA’s full statement on the MWC cancellation reads as follows:
The GSMA has been a victim of circumstances out of its control and it’s a huge disappointment the show will not go ahead this year.
Key members of the CCS Insight team have been attending this event for over 20 years and it’s the highlight of the mobile industry calendar. We are hugely disappointed the show is not going ahead but respect the need to consider the wellbeing of delegates as a result of Coronavirus.
The impact on small companies who have invested a disproportionate amount of their budgets and time on this event should not be under-estimated. MWC is an anchor event for many and now they face the challenge of having to figure out what the best way to salvage something from this difficult situation.
The GSMA now needs to be careful that there is not a knock of effect from this year’s cancellation. Major companies and many attendees will be reviewing the importance of MWC to their business and the GSMA must work hard to have a clear path forward. This is particularly true for smaller business that have had to swallow many of the costs from this year’s show.