MWC organizers cancel show as big companies bail on coronavirus fears

id=”article-body” class=”row” section=”article-body”> Mobile World Congress, held each year in Barcelona, brings together the world’s biggest wireless companies. 

Getty Images At the end of the month, many of the world’s top mobile companies were scheduled to make their annual pilgrimage to Barcelona for 카지노사이트 Mobile World Congress. But worries about the coronavirus outbreak proved too strong to ignore. On Wednesday, the show’s organizer canceled MWC 2020, saying it was “impossible” to proceed. 

The move has left companies scrambling to figure out their next steps. For some, it could mean holding their own events or simply putting out press releases to unveil their newest gadgets. Many could delay their product launches altogether while they figure out what to do. Some, particularly Chinese companies, are mulling plans to proceed with their events in Barcelona, Spain, even though the official conference won’t take place. 

“The impact on small companies who have invested a disproportionate amount of their budgets and time on this event should not be underestimated,” CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood said. “MWC is an anchor event for many, and now they face the challenge of having to figure out the best way to salvage something from this difficult situation.”

MWC brings together companies from across the world, with many using the weeklong trade show as the place to introduce their newest smartphones. This year was expected to feature new 5G phones from nearly every major Android vendor, as well as updates about the networks running the new super-fast connectivity. Though 5G became a reality last year, this year is when it could go mainstream. 

But attendees and organizers were worried about an uninvited guest: the new coronavirus discovered in December in Wuhan, the capital of the Chinese region of Hubei. The virus triggers a pneumonia-like disease, now officially dubbed COVID-19, that as of Wednesday has hit more than 45,000 people and claimed more than 1,100 lives. The illness has spread beyond China’s borders to around 30 countries, including the US, Japan and Australia, and two cases have been confirmed in Spain. 

Prior to MWC’s cancellation, the companies that had withdrawn from the show included Nokia, Vodafone, BT, Deutsche Telekom, HMD, AT&T, Sprint, Cisco, Facebook, Intel, Royole, Sony, Amazon, LG, Vivo, Ericsson and Nvidia. Meanwhile, ZTE and TCL had canceled their press conferences, and Huawei and 카지노사이트쿠폰 Oppo had placed their executives in quarantine outside China to make sure they were healthy (they’d stay in quarantine for 14 days ahead of the show).

Mobile World Congress 2020 was scheduled to run from Feb. 24 through Feb. 27, and press events were slated to take place several days beforehand. 

Now playing: Watch this: Mobile World Congress is canceled. Now what? (The Daily… 6:07 MWC’s slow collapse

GSMA, the trade group that puts on Mobile World Congress, noted last week — before the big names began dropping out of the show — that there was “minimal impact on the event thus far” and that the event was proceeding as planned. “Spain, the City of Barcelona and the GSMA look forward to welcoming attendees to MWC Barcelona 2020,” the group said. 

On Sunday, GSMA reiterated that it was moving ahead with MWC but was putting additional, stringent health measures in place to reassure attendees and exhibitors that their health and safety were of “paramount concern.” 

Those measures included banning any travelers from China’s Hubei province, where the coronavirus outbreak began, and requiring attendees who had passed through China to show proof they’d been outside the country for 14 days.

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Authorities around the world have begun limiting travel and enforcing quarantines to guard against the coronavirus spread. As a result, many major players in the mobile industry reconsidered their MWC attendance, with options including dropping out completely or scaling down their presence. For some companies, it could’ve meant canceling travel by execs from places like Asia or the US and instead relying on European employees to staff their booths and events. Many were also planning to allow executives to decide if they wanted to travel to MWC at all. 

MWC might appear to center on phone launches, but it also plays host to important conversations between vendors and clients, where deals are struck to keep the mobile industry ticking. If key senior people canceled, those conversations couldn’t take place, discouraging other people and companies from attending, according to IDC analyst Francisco Jeronimo. 

“I think the number of people attending will drop dramatically this year,” he said before GSMA canceled the event entirely. 

Precautions

When it came to holding MWC, the worry for many companies was the nature of the show itself. The bulk of the week’s activities take place in a convention center on the outskirts of Barcelona, with about 100,000 people brushing up against one another, shaking hands and breathing the same air. Thousands of attendees were expected to travel to MWC from China, even though there are many flight bans. (US, European and Asian airlines have halted service to China for the time being.) People are typically crammed into tight quarters at press conferences, meeting rooms and show floor booths. 

The coronavirus has been spreading from person to person, though it isn’t clear how easily or quickly it moves. 

The GSMA had taken steps to mitigate the spread of the virus, as it has detailed in press releases over the past week:

It planned to increase on-site medical support and disinfection programs.

It was going to install new signs on-site reminding attendees of proper hygiene. 

It would change mics between each speaker. 

It would advise all attendees to adopt a “no-handshake policy.” 

GSMA also had set up a free, 24-hour telephone security and medical service for all attendees. 

It had provided hygiene recommendations to Barcelona hotels, public and private transportation, restaurants and catering businesses, among other entities. 

“The GSMA is building on its existing plans to protect the health of our attendees, clients and staff at MWC Barcelona,” the group said last week. “Colleagues around the world are taking active measures to contain and lessen any further spread of the virus. These measures include adhering to advice from the (World Health Organization) and other health authorities, respecting travel restrictions where they exist, arriving early in Spain to allow time for self-quarantine and ensuring access to masks.”

On Sunday, the GSMA, Spanish health authorities and other agencies had detailed four enhanced measures:

All travelers from China’s Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, would be banned from the event.

All travelers who’d been to China would need to provide evidence that they’d been outside China for 14 days prior to the event (from Feb. 10 onward).

Temperature screenings would be implemented.

Attendees would need to self-certify that they hadn’t been in contact with infected individuals. 

The WHO hadn’t issued specific guidance regarding the show or other large international gatherings, and it had directed a request for comment to its general technical guidelines for dealing with the outbreak.

China’s wide reach

The spread of the coronavirus has had ripple effects across the globe, underscoring how connected the tech world has become. Chinese companies are some of the world’s biggest makers of mobile devices, and they’re also key parts of the supply chain, manufacturing components and assembling devices for customers across the globe. The worries about the coronavirus have resulted in shuttered factories and the quarantine of the 11 million people living in Wuhan. Numerous technology companies have closed their stores and offices in the country and 카지노사이트쿠폰 have implemented travel restrictions. 

“For tech, a big issue [is] the supply chain,” Creative Strategies analyst Ben Bajarin noted. “We could see an impact, not just on smartphones but PCs and other consumer electronics if the workforce takes a hit or factories have to be shut down during specific quarantines.”

See also

Coronavirus affecting tech firms as outbreak spreads

With MWC 2020 canceled, most new Android phones face a tough debut

MWC 2020 phone event canceled because of coronavirus outbreak

Apple CEO Tim Cook last month told investors that the company has suppliers in the Wuhan area and that it was “working on mitigation plans to make up any expected production loss.” But he also warned that it was unclear how coronavirus would impact suppliers in other parts of China and noted that the anticipated two-week shutdown in Chinese operations could mean delays for some devices. Foxconn, the main assembler of iPhones, said it’ll be able to meet production needs, but a report last week said up to 45 million pairs of AirPods could be caught in limbo while manufacturers wait on components needed to assemble the wireless earbuds. (Apple is the one notable mobile company that doesn’t attend MWC.) 

Facebook’s already-hard-to-get Oculus Quest headset could face more delays due to the coronavirus. And Nintendo said the coronavirus outbreak has delayed production of the Animal Crossing version of its Switch hybrid game console. Japanese preorders have been pushed back from Feb. 8 to an undetermined date.

Lenovo, the Chinese laptop maker, said it was avoiding large face-to-face meetings and allowing more people to work from home until more is known about the outbreak. HP has implemented some travel restrictions for employees going to and from China. Mozilla, which makes the Firefox browser, has made masks and hand 카지노 sanitizer available. Five factories that make LCD and OLED panels are expected to see slowdowns in production, according to IHS Markit, a research firm.

And Qualcomm, the world’s biggest maker of wireless chips, warned on Feb. 5 that the coronavirus could hurt global handset demand. 

Sitting this one out

MWC’s planned precautions weren’t enough for some companies. On Feb. 5, South Korea-based LG became the first major tech company to announce that it wouldn’t attend MWC in order to protect its employees, partners and customers from the coronavirus. 

“This decision removes the risk of exposing hundreds of LG employees to international travel which has already become more restrictive as the virus continues to spread across borders,” the company said in a statement. 

LG usually uses MWC as the venue to launch its flagship phone line, 카지노사이트쿠폰 known as the G-Series, along with a few midrange devices. Market watchers expected the South Korean company to introduce a successor to the LG G8 ThinQ, presumably called the LG G9 ThinQ, in Barcelona. Instead, LG said it “will be holding separate events in the near future to announce its 2020 mobile products.”

On Feb. 7, Swedish telecom giant Ericsson became the second company to pull out of the show, also citing coronavirus concerns. The company said the demos and content created for the show will instead be shown at local “Ericsson Unboxed” events at a later date.

“The health and safety of our employees, customers and other stakeholders are our highest priority,” Börje Ekholm, president and CEO of Ericsson, said in a statement. “We were looking forward to showcasing our latest innovations at MWC in Barcelona. It is very unfortunate, but we strongly believe the most responsible business decision is to withdraw our participation from this year’s event.”