Mobile World Congress 2021 is happening, but who’s attending?
Mobile World Congress is set to go forward with an in-person event this summer. But some of the largest companies won’t be in attendance, echoing what happened last year as the COVID-19 pandemic was surging across the globe. So, which companies are actually going this year?
Several companies have released statements announcing decisions not to attend Mobile World Congress this year, including Sony, Nokia, Ericsson, and Oracle. This despite organizers delaying MWC 2021 from March to June 2021 over COVID-19 concerns.
“After careful consideration, Nokia has decided not to have a physical presence at Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2021,” Nokia said in a statement. “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 roll out still in its early phases, we have made the considered decision to instead participate only in the virtual event.”
Other companies have released similar statements, citing COVID-19 as the reason for pulling out of the event. Sony said (via CNET) it’s interested in shifting toward digital and online opportunities as a way to communicate product news and announcements.
Ericsson, which was among the first to confirm it won’t be attending MWC 2021, said it’s focused on the health and well-being of its employees and communities around the world.
“The decision, whilst regrettable, reflects our precautionary approach to managing the pandemic from a people and travel perspective whilst vaccination programs are rolled out globally,” Ericsson said in a statement.
The GSMA, the organization that puts on the annual event, said it respects the decision of those who decide not to attend and will create a virtual platform as an alternative. It’s unclear, however, if every company that won’t attend the in-person show will participate virtually.
“We appreciate that it will not be possible for everyone to attend MWC Barcelona 2021,” GSMA said. “This is why we have developed an industry-leading virtual event platform that will ensure everyone can enjoy the unique MWC experience.”
The lack of attendance from major companies is a blow for Mobile World Congress, which was forced to cancel its event last year due to the pandemic. A year later and COVID-19 is still a major issue across the globe, and despite the existence of vaccines, there’s still the possibility of spreading the virus.
It makes you wonder if the show will go on in Barcelona this summer. The organizers have said it has a multi-layered plan to ensure a safe environment, including requiring attendees to show a negative COVID-19 test before even getting to Barcelona. Attendees will also have to produce a negative rapid test on-site and get retested every 72 hours.
If you plan on attending Mobile World Congress this year, you should brush up on the GSMA’s requirements.