Amazon Latest to Defect from Mobile World Congress over Virus
Five companies, including Amazon, Sony, South Korea’s LG Electronics, Swedish equipment maker Ericsson and U.S. chipmaker Nvidia have dropped out of attending Mobile World Congress, a major electronics conference that typically draws 5,000-6,000 Chinese nationals from various tech companies, because of fear of the spread of the coronavirus, according to a story on theverge.com. UPDATE: The conference was cancelled on February 12 because of the coronavirus concerns, according to a story on businessinsider.com.
The February 24-27 event will go forward, with precautions, according to a venturebeat.com story quoting a statement from the GSMA telecoms industry association. No visitors from the Hubei province in China will be allowed to attend.
“More than two dozen large trade fairs and industry conferences in China and overseas have been postponed or hit by travel curbs and concerns about the spread of the virus, potentially disrupting billions of dollars worth of deals,” according to the venturebeat story.
A bloomberg.com story outlined how MWC is already planning to take precautions by asking attendees to avoid handshakes and by replacing microphones for each speaker. The conferences are an important way for companies to introduce new products and generate interest. LG and Ericsson mobile phonemakers had wanted to take advantage of the introduction of 5G in many areas, but decided the risk was too great.
The GSMA has increased medical support at the event and implemented a robust disinfection policy for catering areas, entrances and exits and public touch-screens in response to the coronavirus, according to the venturebeat.com story.
According to digitaltrends.com, after companies made the decision to avoid the event, others are considering doing the same, creating a “financial nightmare” for the trade group hosting it. The event is a major moneymaker for the group, not only for the return-on-investment through marketing, but the deals made there and the boon to the region’s economy, which makes cities clamor for hosting such events.
CCS Insight’s mobile analyst Ben Wood told Digital Trends: “For big companies, there are clearly huge sums of money involved in terms of stand builds, staff, flights, accommodation and more, but they can probably weather it financially better than smaller businesses because of their large financial resources. For little companies, the impact could be far more significant given MWC often represents one of their biggest investments of the year.”
Major phonemakers like Ericsson spend at much at $6.5 million to rent enormous booths to conduct sales.
read more at theverge.com