Is history set to repeat itself? Mobile World Congress was one of the first major conferences to be canceled last year after an increasing number of companies pulled out over Covid-19 fears. The event returns to Barcelona this year, but despite plenty of protections in place, more big names have announced they won’t be attending.
We heard earlier this year that MWC Barcelona would be an in-person event this year when it takes place in June instead of the usual February date. Organizer GSMA has pointed to last month’s MWC Shanghai, which saw around 17,000 attendees, as an example to follow.
But it seems the tech firms don’t share GSMA’s optimism. Nokia has just joined Ericsson, Sony, Oracle, and Facebook in confirming it won’t have a physical presence at the show.
“After careful consideration, Nokia has decided not to have a physical presence at Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2021. The health of our employees, customers, and partners is of paramount importance to us. Given the international nature of the event and with the global vaccine rollout still in its early phases, we have made the considered decision to instead participate in only the virtual event,” the company wrote in a statement.
Fellow telecoms giant Ericsson was the first to confirm it wouldn’t be attending MWC due to the continuing impact of Covid-19. Sony Mobile and Oracle later said they wouldn’t be at the event for similar reasons.
Facebook had already confirmed it wouldn’t be attending any in-person events through the end of June 2021 because of the pandemic, so it seems MWC just missed the cut-off point.
Despite the dropouts and just half the usual 100,000 attendees expected, it seems highly unlikely that MWC will once again be canceled.
“We appreciate that it will not be possible for everyone to attend MWC Barcelona 2021,” GSMA said Tuesday. “This is why we have developed an industry-leading virtual event platform that will ensure everyone can enjoy the unique MWC experience.”