What you need to know
- Yet another company has decided to skip MWC 2020.
- AT&T today stated that "the most responsible decision is to withdraw" from the event.
- The GSM Association is contemplating on whether to cancel the event entirely.
MWC this year is in chaos. Following a string of withdrawals from some of the biggest players in the mobile world — Sony, Amazon, LG, ZTE, and Ericsson to name but a few — the annual trade show is in trouble. In fact, it's gotten so bad that the GSM Association, the body responsible for organizing the event, is currently contemplating whether to cancel the whole thing.
Adding to that uncertainty is the latest announcement from AT&T, which has also decided to skip the event. The CEO of the company's business arm was previously slated to hold a keynote at the event.
In a statement to reporter Eli Blumenthal, the company's representatives state that while they appreciated the GSMA's preventative measures against the spread of the coronavirus, they feel that it's better to skip out entirely.
After careful discussions and planning, we have decided that we will not participate in GSMA Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2020. We value our participation in important industry groups like GSMA and deeply respect the steps they have already taken to protect attendees. Unfortunately, the most responsible decision is to withdraw our participation from the event t safeguard our employees and customers.
The decision does make sense when you consider the scale of the conference. Last year, it drew 109,000 individuals from 198 different countries. With a potentially fatal virus spreading through China, an international gathering of this magnitude would be a prime breeding ground for the pathogen's spread if any of the attendants were previously infected.
The GSMA has taken additional measures this year to combat the virus, but given the overall climate of anxiety and fear surrounding the disease, MWC this year will undoubtedly be a much smaller affair than usual, if not scrapped entirely.