In brief: Mobile World Congress (MWC), the trade show hosted annually by GSMA for the mobile industry, has officially been canceled due to fears over the coronavirus. The event was originally scheduled to run from February 24 through February 27 in Barcelona, Spain.
Bloomberg was first to report the news, citing an e-mailed statement from GSMA CEO John Hoffman. In it, he said the virus outbreak has made it “impossible” to hold the event.
As the publication highlights, this is the first time in MWC’s 33-year history that it has been canceled.
I can’t think of any other time that a tech event of this magnitude has been called off, especially less than two weeks out. MWC attracts more than 100,000 participants from around the globe, with five to six percent of them historically attending from China.
So, what happens next? Lots of lost business and headaches, no doubt.
For exhibitors and journalists, there will be plenty of airline and hotel cancellations in their near future. Networking opportunities will be lost. Business deals that would have otherwise taken place will never materialize. I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot of individual smartphone announcements in the coming days and weeks as companies scramble to share news of their latest devices without the aid of a large convention.
With any luck, the coronavirus will blow over and by this time next year, it’ll all be a distant memory. The worst thing that could happen is that event organizers and attendees realize that a trade show like this isn’t necessary and that would be very unfortunate.
Masthead credit: Angel Garcia, Bloomberg. MWC by Ivan Garcia.