Mobile World Congress is the biggest mobile expo of the year that’s held in Barcelona on the 24th to 27th February 2020. Due to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus outbreak, several brands have pulled out from the annual conference and the latest to withdraw include Sony and Ericsson.
Sony typically uses MWC as a venue to launch their brand new flagship smartphones featuring the latest Qualcomm processors. For this year, the Japanese smartphone maker is expected to launch their first 5G smartphone which will succeed the current Xperia 1.
Because of the virus outbreak, Sony has decided to withdraw from MWC2020 but they will still continue to launch the device virtually on their official YouTube channel.
Below is Sony’s statement that was shared with XperiaBlog:
Sony’s Participation at MWC Barcelona 2020
Sony has been closely monitoring the evolving situation following the novel coronavirus outbreak, which was declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization on January 30th, 2020.
As we place the utmost importance on the safety and wellbeing of our customers, partners, media and employees, we have taken the difficult decision to withdraw from exhibiting and participating at MWC 2020 in Barcelona, Spain.
The Sony press conference will now instead take place at the scheduled time of 8:30am (CET) on February 24, 2020 as a video via our official Xperia YouTube channel to share our exciting product news.
Sony would like to thank everyone for their understanding and ongoing support during these challenging times.
Swedish-based Ericsson has also announced that they are pulling out from MWC2020 due to coronavirus fears. According to its official press release, they have decided to withdraw from the largest event in the telecom industry after an extensive internal risk assessment.
They added that they appreciate GSMA’s efforts to control the risk, however, even if the risk is low, the company cannot guarantee the health and safety of its employees and visitors.
Ericsson’s President and CEO, Börje Ekholm said “The health and safety of our employees, customers and other stakeholders are our highest priority. This is not a decision we have taken lightly. We were looking forward to showcasing our latest innovations at MWC in Barcelona. It is very unfortunate, but we strongly believe the most responsible business decision is to withdraw our participation from this year’s event.”
As an alternative, Ericsson plans to showcase their latest portfolio and innovations to their customers with a localised “Ericsson Unboxed” in the respective home markets.
LG, Amazon, Nvidia and ZTE
Other tech giants have also announced withdrawal from MWC and this includes LG, Amazon and Nvidia. According to The Verge, ZTE had also cancelled its press conference but they will still have a booth to demonstrate its new 5G devices. In the initial report, it was mentioned that their cancellation was partly due to travel and visa delays. It was also reported that ZTE is an overly courteous company and they don’t want to make people uncomfortable especially when China has the largest number of 2019 Novel Coronavirus cases.
GSMA increases measures for MWC2020
GSMA, the organiser of MWC has also issued a statement that emphasises its increased efforts to minimise the risk of the coronavirus at the event. As a health and safety measure, all travellers from Hubei province are not allowed to access the event and those that have been to China must show evidence that they are out of China 14 days before the event through a passport stamp or health certificate.
Temperature screening will be implemented at the event and they will also increase their cleaning and disinfection program at all high-volume touchpoints. They are also adopting a “no-handshake” policy which will be communicated to all attendees.
At the moment, there are over 40,000 confirmed cases worldwide with 910 deaths reported so far. At the moment, there’s only one death reported outside of China, while Malaysia currently has 18 confirmed cases with zero deaths.