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The annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona brings together the world's largest wireless companies.

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At the end of this month, many of the world ’s top mobile companies to make pilgrimages to Barcelona every year, Mobile World Congress. But worried Coronavirus The outbreak proved too powerful to be ignored. On Wednesday, the organizer of the show Cancelled MWC 2020, Saying "impossible" to proceed.

The move caused the company to leave Scrambling to figure out the next step. For some, this may mean holding their own event, or simply issuing a press release to showcase their latest product. Many people can figure out what to do while delaying their product launch completely. Although the official meeting will not be held, some companies, especially Chinese ones, are considering plans for an event in Barcelona, ​​Spain.

CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood said: "For small companies that spend too much budget and time on this event, the impact cannot be underestimated." "MWC is a fixed event for many people and now they have to find Challenge the best way to save something from this difficult situation. "

MWC brings together companies from around the world, many of them using a week-long trade show to introduce their latest products smart phone. Expect new features this year 5G Smartphones from almost every major Android vendor, as well as updates on networks running new ultra-fast connections. Although 5G became a reality last year, This year is when it will become mainstream.

However, attendees and organizers worry about an uninvited guest: the newcomer Coronavirus Found in December in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei China. The virus can cause pneumonia-like diseases, Now officially known as COVID-19As of Wednesday Assaulted more than 45,000 people and claimed more than 1,100 lives. The has spread from the Chinese border to about 30 countries including the United States, Japan and Australia, and Spain has confirmed two cases.

Prior to MWC cancellation, companies exiting the show include Nokia, Vodafone, British Telecom, SF, Head-mounted display, American telephone and telegraph co., Sprint, Cisco, Facebook, Intel, Royol, Sony, Amazon, LG, Body, Ericsson with Nvidia. At the same time, ZTE and TCL has been cancelled Their press conference, and Huawei with Oppo Executives have been placed in a quarantine area outside China to ensure their health [they will be quarantined 14 days before the show starts].

The 2020 World Mobile Communications Conference was originally scheduled to be held from February 24 to February 27, and a press conference was scheduled to be held a few days ago.

MWC's slow crash

The GSMA, a trade organization participating in the Mobile World Congress, noted last week-before the big ones started to withdraw from the show-there were "Minimal impact on incident to dateThe organization said: "And the event is on track. Spain, Barcelona and GSMA look forward to welcoming attendees to MWC Barcelona 2020."

On Sunday, GSMA reiterated that it will continue to advance MWC, but is taking other stringent health measures to ensure that the health and safety of participants and exhibitors is "most important".

These measures include banning any traveler from Hubei Province, China, from a coronavirus outbreak, and requiring attendees who have passed through China to show proof that they have stayed abroad for 14 days.

Authorities around the world have begun to restrict travel and strengthen quarantine to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. As a result, many of the major players in the mobile industry have reconsider their opportunities to participate in MWC, including options to withdraw entirely or reduce their presence. For some companies, this may mean cancelling executive travel from Asia or the United States, and relying on European employees to staff their booths and events. Many also plan to let executives decide whether to go to MWC.

MWC seems to focus on phone releases, but it also acts as a host of important conversations between suppliers and customers, in which deals are concluded to keep the mobile industry growing. According to IDC analyst Francisco Jeronimo, if key seniors are cancelled, these conversations will not be possible, preventing others and companies from participating.

"I think there will be a sharp drop in attendance this year," he said.

Precautions

When hosting MWC, many companies worry about the nature of the performance itself. Most of the week's events are held at the convention center in the suburbs of Barcelona, ​​where about 100,000 people shake hands with each other, shake hands and breathe the same air. Even with many flight bans, thousands of attendees are expected to travel from China to Mobile World Congress. [U.S., European and Asian airlines temporarily suspend service to China.] Usually in press conferences, conference rooms and exhibition booths, people are crowded in narrow places.

Coronavirus has been transmitted from person to person, although it is unclear how fast or how fast it moves.

As detailed in last week's press release, GSMA has taken steps to mitigate the spread of the virus:

  • It plans to add on-site medical support and disinfection programs.
  • It will install new signs on site to remind participants of proper hygiene.
  • It will change the microphone between each .
  • It will recommend all participants to adopt a "no handshake policy".
  • GSMA also set up free 24-hour telephone security and medical services for all attendees.
  • It provides hygiene advice for hotels, public and private transportation, restaurants and catering in Barcelona, ​​and other entities.

"GSMA is building its existing program to protect the health of attendees, customers and employees of MWC Barcelona," The group said last week. "Colleagues around the world are taking proactive measures to curb and reduce further transmission of the virus. These include compliance with [WHO] and other health authorities' recommendations, respect for existing travel , early arrival in Spain, and time for self Isolate and make sure you use a mask. "

On Sunday, GSMA, Spanish health authorities and other agencies detailed four enhancements:

  • At the outbreak of the epidemic, all travelers from Hubei Province will be banned from participating in the event.
  • All travelers who have been to China need to provide evidence that they have left China 14 days before the event [from February 10].
  • Temperature screening will take place.
  • Attendees need to prove themselves that they have not been in contact with an infected person.

WHO has not issued specific guidance on performances or other large international , and has issued comments to it. General technical guidelines Deal with the outbreak.

China has a wide influence

The spread of coronaviruses has had a ripple effect worldwide, emphasizing the links between the technological world. Chinese companies are one of the world's largest mobile device manufacturers, and they are also a key part of the supply chain that provides global customers with manufacturing components and assembly equipment. Concerns about the coronavirus led to the closure of the plant and the isolation of 11 million people living in Wuhan. Many technology companies have closed stores and offices in the country and imposed travel restrictions.

"For technology, the biggest issue is the supply chain," pointed out Ben Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies. "If the workforce is hit or the plant must be closed during certain quarantines, we will not only see the impact, it will affect not only smartphones but also PCs and other consumer electronics."

Apple CEO Tim Cook told investors last month that the company has suppliers in Wuhan and is "developing a mitigation plan to cover any anticipated production losses." But he also warned It is unclear how coronavirus will affect suppliers In other parts of China, it was noted that a two-week outage expected to operate in China could mean delays for certain equipment. Foxconn, Foxconn's main assembler iPhoneSaid it could meet production needs, but a report last week said 45 million pairs of AirPods could be in trouble Manufacturers are waiting for the components needed to assemble wireless earbuds. [Apple is a well-known mobile company that does not participate in MWC.]

Facebook has been hard to get Oculus mission Headphone May face more delays due to coronavirus. with Nintendo Say Corona virus outbreak has delayed production of Animal Crossing Version Switch hybrid game console. Japanese pre-order It has been postponed from February 8 to an uncertain date.

LenovoThe Chinese laptop maker said it avoided holding large face-to-face meetings and allowed more people to work from home people became aware of the epidemic. life value Some travel restrictions are imposed on employees traveling to and from China. Mozilla, which makes Firefox, already offers masks and hand sanitizers. According to research firm IHS Markit, production at five factories manufacturing LCD and OLED panels is expected to slow.

Qualcomm, the world's largest wireless chip maker, warned on February 5 that the coronavirus could harm demand for mobile phones worldwide.

Sit this

For some companies, MWC's planned precautions are not enough. On February 5, LG in South Korea became the first to announce It will not participate in MWC To protect their employees, partners and customers from coronavirus.

"The decision eliminates the risk of hundreds of LG employees participating in international travel, which has become more stringent as the virus continues to spread across borders," the company said. Said in the statement.

LG typically uses MWC as a venue for launching its flagship phone line [called the G-series] and some mid-range . observers expect the South Korean company to introduce a successor to the product. LG G8 ThinQIt is probably the LG G9 ThinQ in Barcelona. LG said, "There will be separate events in the near future to announce its 2020 mobile products."

February 7, Swedish telecommunications giant Ericsson becomes second exit company The issue of coronavirus was also mentioned in the show. The company said that the presentations and content created for the show will later be shown at a local "Ericsson Unboxed" event.

"We put the health and safety of our employees, customers and other stakeholders first," said Börje Ekholm, President and CEO of Ericsson. In the statement. "We are looking forward to presenting our latest innovations at the MWC in Barcelona. This is very unfortunate, but we firmly believe that the most responsible business decision is to withdraw from our activities this year."

Ericsson is one of the global leaders in network technology and has always been one of MWC's largest exhibitors. With the global rollout of 5G, this is a crucial year for the company. In the latest statement released after Ericsson announced the news, GSMA expressed "regret" that it would not participate in MWC 2020.

The statement said: "We respect their decision and guarantee that they will fully participate in MWC Barcelona 2021, and the trend of booking next year's race is still high." influences."

IDC's Jeronimo said in early February that it seems more companies will inevitably follow the decisions of Ericsson and LG and decide to participate in the show this year. "They will start worrying about whether it's worth the risk," he said. He added that people would understand whether Chinese companies opted out of the show, but that large European companies like Ericsson withdraw could have ripple effects on other participants.

On the evening of February 7, NVIDIA reaches third largest exit company From MWC. "Given the public health risks surrounding coronavirus, ensuring the safety of our colleagues, partners and customers is our top concern," the company said in a blog. In recent years, Nvidia hasn't had much [or no ] Exists, but it plans to talk about its efforts on NWC this year. artificial intelligence.

Since then, the number of people leaving has increased steadily. Sunday, Amazon Confirm it will exit MWC 2020 "Due to the outbreak and continued attention to the new coronavirus."

Sony followed up earlier on Monday And exited, but the company said that its press conference is on schedule and it is expected to show its latest Xperia flagship product at the press conference. Now it will be streaming live over the internet.

On Tuesday, AT & T, Sprint, Cisco, Royole, Facebook, Intel and Vivo dropped out of the show, while KMW, a company that designs and manufactures RF components for companies such as Nokia and Samsung, also dropped out.

An Intel spokesperson said in a statement: "The safety and well-being of all of our employees and partners is our top priority, and we have withdrawn from this year's Mobile World Congress due to careful consideration."

A company spokesperson said in a statement: "Because of caution, Facebook employees will not participate in this year's Mobile World Congress due to the evolving public health risks associated with coronavirus.

Cisco Tweet Withdrawal on Tuesday. "Due to concerns over the current outbreak of the coronavirus, we made a difficult decision to withdraw from participating in Mobile World Congress."

AT & T representatives said: "We value participation in important industry groups such as GSMA and deeply respect the steps they take to protect attendees." Tell CNET in the statement. "Unfortunately, the most responsible decision is to withdraw from our activities to protect our employees and customers."

Anne Chow, CEO of AT & T Business, was scheduled to a keynote speech at the event.

On Wednesday, Nokia, Vodafone, Head-mounted display, British Telecom with SF They also said they would not participate in the show. HMD, which makes Nokia phones, said it will postpone the launch of its new devices and is expected to release them later.

"Nokia does not intend to meet customers and stakeholders in Barcelona, ​​but plans to reach customers directly through a series of" Nokia Live Broadcasting "events to showcase industry-leading demos and products planned for MWC." Nokia said in statement.

Quarantine and health

Companies traveling from China to MWC face unique challenges as they carefully weigh the health risks of attending trade shows and requiring employees to travel from Asia to Europe. Before the GSMA unplugged, no large Chinese company withdrew from the show.

ZTE canceled a press conference originally scheduled for February 25. All other scheduled activities are planned.

On Monday, TCL-Alcatel, BlackBerry and TCL-branded handset makers in Shenzhen, China-said It will also cancel its press conferenceIt was earlier scheduled for February 22. The company stated that "we have taken great care and care of our employees, customers, the press and other guests."

Other Chinese companies are also taking other major precautions, such as isolating executives. GSMA said that typically 5,000 to 6,000 representatives from China attended the show, and many asked their European colleagues to represent them at this year's show.

Honor, a Huawei-owned mobile phone brand, said it is expected to participate in MWC. Huawei and Honor have important businesses in the UK and Western Europe. Honor plans to equip its booth with employees from these regions, not Chinese employees. But the company's president, George Zhao, is no longer scheduled to attend the show.

Among companies still planning to bring in employees from China, Huawei, Oppo and ZTE require their employees to spend two weeks in isolation before the show. The two companies said that all Huawei representatives in China and ZTE executives will spend this isolated time in Europe.

These executives are currently spending time on quarantine work outside China. Since many suppliers are already in Europe, Chinese suppliers are considering a Barcelona press conference as planned.

Oppo has said that in addition to quarantining employees, it will also monitor employees through routine health checks and take temperature checks on all employees participating in Oppo activities.

What does coronavirus mean to mobile phones in 2020?

Product launches and conferences previously expected at the show, including the launch of the LG G9 ThinQ, may be delayed but not completely cancelled.

For both companies, the biggest impact could be the failure of behind-the-scenes deals. Despite their flashy press conferences and flashy booths, executives meet in Barcelona year after year. The operator checked out the new phone, the phone maker learned about the upcoming components, and the two parties established a partnership.

As the supply chain is under pressure, and the opportunities for these transactions to maintain industry development are becoming less and less, the impact of the outbreak may have far-reaching effects, but it is not until the second half of this year that the next batch of mobile phones, including the next batch of mobile phones, may be felt To this effect. 5G iPhone is expected to appear.

CNET's Sareena Dayaram, Jason Hiner, Lynn La and Jackson Ryan, Eli Blumenthal and CNET Espanol's César Salza contributed to this report.

Originally released on February 8.
Update February 9: Added new withdrawal limits for Amazon and new MWC attendance limits; February 10: Added the exit of Sony and the cancellation of TCL's press conference; February 11: Added AT & T, Facebook, Intel, and Vivo content to withdraw from the show; February 12: Plus the exits of Nokia, HMD, BT, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone. Add information about MWC cancellations later and update the article to reflect the changes.

Mobile World Congress 2020

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