What just happened? Mobile World Congress will be a lot quieter this year. Following in the footsteps of several other large companies, Sony and Amazon have become the latest names to withdraw from the tech show over coronavirus fears.
Last week saw LG and Ericsson announce that they won’t be at this year’s event, and while ZTE said it was canceling its press conference, the Chinese firm later confirmed it would have booth space at MWC. News of the withdrawals was unexpected, but Nvidia’s decision to pull out came as a bigger shock, especially as it’s a major sponsor of the show.
Now, Sony, a company that traditionally has a huge presence at MWC, has decided that the risks posed by the coronavirus are too high to warrant its attendance. “Sony has been closely monitoring the evolving situation following the novel coronavirus outbreak, which was declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization on January 30th, 2020,” the company wrote on its website. “As we place the utmost importance on the safety and wellbeing of our customers, partners, media and employees, we have taken the difficult decision to withdraw from exhibiting and participating at MWC 2020 in Barcelona, Spain.”
Amazon has also pulled out. In a statement to TechCrunch, a spokesperson said: “due to the outbreak and continued concerns about novel coronavirus, Amazon will withdraw from exhibiting and participating in Mobile World Congress 2020.”
In addition to precautions that include an increased cleaning/disinfecting program and advising attendees to adopt a “no-handshaking” policy, MWC yesterday announced new measures to reduce the risks from the coronavirus. These include travelers from the Hubei province, where most of the virus-related deaths have occurred, not being permitted into the event. Temperature screening is also being implemented, and attendees will need to self-certify they have not been in contact with anyone infected.
Amid news of the withdrawals, some companies have reaffirmed their plans to attend MWC, including Qualcomm, Lenovo, Motorola, Xiaomi, Vivo, and Honor.
Mobile World Conference takes place between February 24 and 27 in Barcelona, Spain.