After several high-profile tech companies confirmed that they won’t be attending Mobile World Congress in Barcelona later this month, the GSM Association is now considering cancelling MWC 2020 over growing coronavirus fears. According to a report from Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia (via iGen.fr), GSMA will reportedly meet on Friday to decide if it should push forward with its MWC 2020 plans.
So far, over 20 companies announced that they were skipping MWC this year, and the names include Amazon, NVIDIA, Intel, Mediatek, Sony, and LG. Microsoft, which will have a booth at MWC and also hold a press conference on Sunday, February 23, has yet to announce any change of plans.
The GSMA has recently announced some new preventive measures to reassure attendees, including temperature screening, as well as more drastic policies for attendees coming from China. GSMA estimates the number of Chinese attendees to be between 5,000 and 6,000, though Chinese phone makers Huawei and ZTE announced that they would be sending more of their European staff to the annual trade show.
It’s likely that more companies may withdraw from MWC this week, adding even more pressure on the shoulders GSMA. It’s still unclear if the risks of a potential epidemic may be overblown, but researcher Oriol Mitja has been calling for a cancellation of the event, pointing out increased risks of transmission in the confined spaces of the venue. "A single introduction would have a probability of between 20 and 30% of causing an outbreak,” the researcher said on Twitter.
Aplazar el #MWC2020 seria una decisión acertada para evitar que se siembre la transmisión local de nCoV en BCN.
Una sola introducción de nCoV tendría una probabilidad del 20-30% de causar un brote. Abro hilo. pic.twitter.com/F4I0vqDrYu
— Oriol Mitjà (@oriolmitja) February 10, 2020
In its MWC 2020 invite, Microsoft mentioned the presence of CVP of Azure Julia White and HoloLens inventor Alex Kipman, and the latter started to do some teasing on Twitter last week. Kipman was on stage at MWC 2019 last year to unveil HoloLens 2, and it seems that Microsoft's press conference this year should once again focus on the company's work on mixed reality.
— Alex Kipman (@akipman) February 7, 2020
We don't know if the company was planning to show off Surface Duo and Neo at MWC this year, but anything seemed possible after a Surface Duo was spotted in the wild last week. Anyway, we reached out to Microsoft to get more information about the company's plans for MWC, and we'll let you know if we hear anything back.