MWC 2020 may be cancelled following new defections

(Image credit: Tomohiro Ohsumi / Getty Images)

The list of big companies that have pulled out of the upcoming Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, is getting so big that we may as well start listing the ones who are staying. In fact, things are so bad that show organizers may decide to cancel the show altogether this Friday.

The latest big brands announcing their MWC exit are Intel and Vivo, according to Spanish newspaper El Mundo. Major telecom companies are now talking about joining this exodus. 

The fear of the coronavirus is so big that the show organizers will meet this Friday to decide if they will cancel the show or not, the Barcelona-based newspaper El Periódico de Cataluña reports. El Periódico is also reporting that infectious disease researcher Oriol Mitjà has asked to the organization to push the dates back.

How this affects consumers?

There is a serious possibility that the show gets cancelled but, if it finally continues, it may become irrelevant to consumers. With only Huawei, Xiaomi, and Oppo as the last recognizable brands at the show, there will be little to talk about. This decaf version of the MWC will bring product introduction delays too.

We know that LG, Sony, ZTE, Nvidia, Amazon, and Ericsson will not be there either, so we will have to see their products in separate events unless, perhaps, the entire show is delayed to a later date.

As for Vivo and Intel, the former uses the largest cellphone show in the world to tantalize us every year with its vision for next generation phones. The Chinese company always introduces its Apex models in Barcelona, which always feature clever innovations that are later adopted by other brands. Last year it was the seamless Vivo Apex 2019, which had no ports or buttons. And in 2018, we got the first Vivo Apex, which featured a full screen with no notches or holes thanks to a never-seen-before, mechanized pop-up camera.

Intel doesn’t show products per se, but it always gives us a look at some prototypes and where it thinks the mobile and AR/VR industries are heading. But even without real products to show, its a big loss for the mobile fair.

Major telecoms and the fear of a total exodus

Spanish newspaper El País is also reporting on two major telecom companies about to leave the show: the British Vodafone and the German Deutsche Telecom. These two giant corporations are two of the major pillars of the show, along Spain's Telefonica — which is the show’s main organizer — France's Orange, and companies like Huawei, which is one of the show’s biggest contributors.

There are no definitive news on any of these defections yet. As newspapers in Spain are reporting, there are political forces pressuring to keep these companies from abandoning the show until the GSMA decides what do on Friday.

Huawei, Xiaomi, and Oppo, perhaps the three last major brands that haven’t cancelled yet, are planning to quarantine their executives 14 days prior to the show. According to the Spanish press, the move follows the show’s decision to prohibit the entrance of anyone coming from China who hasn’t been through a 14-day quarantine outside of the asian country.

Clearly, the fear of the coronavirus is more contagious than the virus itself. 

Jesus Diaz

Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story and wrote old angry man rants, among other things. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce, and currently writes for Fast Company and Tom's Guide.