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February 12, 2020updated 13 Feb 2020 9:59am

Barcelona Left Reeling After GSMA Cancels Mobile World Congress

Coronavirus concerns make event "impossible" says organiser

By CBR Staff Writer

Mobile World Congress cancelled: Organisers of MWC2020 have pulled the plug on one of the world’s largest tech events just 12 days ahead of its launch.

The decision by organiser GSMA comes after some of the mobile technology conference’s biggest exhibitors including Amazon, Ericsson, Intel, Sony and more  pulled out citing public health fears over the coronavirus outbreak.

The decision will leave many reeling: just two days earlier the GSMA said it still had 2,800 exhibitors and would be proceeding. Hotels, local contractors and exhibitors will all have sunk considerable costs into the event that may not prove recoverable.

Mobile World Congress cancelled: GMSA CEO Says Event “Impossible”

GSMA CEO John Hoffman said: “With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country today, the GSMA has cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event.”

He added: “The Host City Parties respect and understand this decision. The GSMA and the Host City Parties will continue to be working in unison and supporting each other for MWC Barcelona 2021 and future editions. Our sympathies at this time are with those affected in China, and all around the world.”

The decision will devastate local contractors and hoteliers: the event drew over 109,000 to Barcelona last year and is one of its annual highlights.

“A Huge Disappointment” 

Ben Wood, Chief of Research, CCS Insight, said in an emailed comment: “The GSMA has been a victim of circumstances out of its control and it’s a huge disappointment the show will not go ahead this year.”

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“Key members of the CCS Insight team have been attending this event for over 20 years and it’s the highlight of the mobile industry calendar.

He added: “The impact on small companies who have invested a disproportionate amount of their budgets and time on this event should not be under-estimated. MWC is an anchor event for many and now they face the challenge of having to figure out what the best way to salvage something from this difficult situation.”

“The GSMA now needs to be careful that there is not a knock of effect from this year’s cancellation. Major companies and many attendees will be reviewing the importance of MWC to their business and the GSMA must work hard to have a clear path forward. This is particularly true for smaller business that have had to swallow many of the costs from this year’s show.”

Move Comes as Coronavirus Rattles Mobile Industry

Data from research house Omdia suggests that utilisation at China’s display fabs will decline by 20 percent to 25 percent in February. Broader country’s production and output will drop 40 percent to 50 percent due to component shortages.

The company added: “Manufacturing of display panels used in products including 5G smartphones has been significantly impacted by the coronavirus epidemic, with suppliers contending with both labor and component shortages. LCD polarizers and LCD module printed circuit boards (PCBs) are now in a state of shortage due to the production bottleneck and also because of logistics issues.

“Panel makers are dealing with low inventory for polarizers. This issue is persisting even after the resumption of production at most facilities.”

Semiconductor supply remains steady for now, it added.

 

 

 

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