If you missed the news, because of the coronavirus pandemic which has killed 1,669 people to date, the decision was made last week to cancel this year's Mobile World Congress (MWC) trade show in Barcelona. The GSMA, which organizes the event, is already discussing MWC Shanghai and MWC Los Angeles both of which will be held later this year. And the organization is also posting about the venue for MWC Barcelona 2021 which will be held March 1st-March 4th next year.
According to Bloomberg, the organization is asking tech and telecom firms to open their wallets and checkbooks to help it soften the blow. Manufacturers bought booths to help promote their devices, accessories, and other products in front of 100,000 attendees; hotel rooms were reserved and tickets to the event (scheduled to run from February 24th to the 27th) purchased. Now, it isn't clear what purchases qualify for a refund and whether these refunds will actually be made.With the decision to cancel the 2020 show, the GSMA is going to take a huge financial hit.
The GSMA, the city of Barcelona and the country of Spain will take a big financial hit from the cancellation of MWC
Mats Granryd, the director general of the GSMA, is hoping that the mobile industry will come together and help the GSMA wash away some of the red ink caused by the cancellation of the event. "We’re looking for solidarity and everybody bearing their own costs, Granryd said on Friday. "We’re an NGO (non-governmental organization) and we don’t make a profit. We don’t have huge amounts of funds, and all our proceeds are funneled back into the industry." The GSMA charges the equivalent of $872 USD for a basic admissions ticket. Companies spend millions of dollars to present their wares during the show. This money is used to fund MWC events and to run the organization.
The decision to cancel the Barcelona event was made after talks were held between the GSMA, city officials in Barcelona and the government of Spain. Both the city and the country took a big financial beating when the decision was made by the GSMA to cancel the show. The organization's director general noted that despite "lengthy debates" about whether or not the show should be canceled, "I think we have salvaged the relationship with them. But it is, of course, a huge financial downturn for them." Granryd made it clear that the top priority was the health of employees and attendees. The reputation of the MWC show was "a distant second” during discussions and added that "We didn’t look at money or anything like that."
As for the next show to be held in Shanghai during June, Granryd stated that a decision about whether to hold the event will eventually have to be made. While it is too early right now for the GSMA to announce the final word on the matter, he did say that as of now, the Shanghai show is going ahead as planned.
Manufacturers that planned on introducing their new smartphones during the event will now hold separate events to announce these new models. This list includes LG and Huawei, expected to introduce the LG V60 ThinQ and the P40 line respectively. Motorola was reportedly planning to announce its return to the flagship phone market with a new model rumored to be called the Motorola Edge, and Nokia was expected to unveil the sequel to the Nokia 9 PureView. Other companies that will have to scramble to make new plans include Sony and Oppo.
As for those featured speakers who were forced to cancel a speech that they had prepared for the event, GSMA's Chief Marketing Officer Stephanie Lynch-Habib on Friday mentioned an interesting idea. She said that some of the planned speakers could record short clips on video that would be hosted on the GSMA website.