Mobile World Congress, the massive phone event scheduled to take place in Barcelona in June, is shedding exhibitors again.
According to The Verge, Google has pulled out of this year’s event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Following our current COVID-19 travel restrictions and protocols, Google has made the decision to not exhibit at Mobile World Congress this year. We will continue to collaborate closely with GSMA and support our partners through virtual opportunities. We look forward to this year’s activities and seeing you in Barcelona in 2022,” the company told the outlet.
Google’s decision to ditch this year’s MWC follows decisions from Nokia, Ericsson, Sony Oracle and Facebook not to attend. All of the companies cited health concerns amidst the pandemic as their reasoning to skip this year’s MWC.
Google typically doesn’t have a massive presence at the MWC — the biggest exhibitors are usually Samsung, Huawei, and LG — but it is a big name, and its addition to the list above does not bode well for the event.
Last year, the Mobile World Congress, the largest phone-related event globally, was one of the first major events to get cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The organizers postponed the decision until the very last minute, but after major exhibitors all pulled out of the show citing health concerns, there was little point in insisting on an in-person event.
For this year, the GSMA — the organization behind the Mobile World Congress — has postponed the show from February to June, in hope that the pandemic would be less of a threat by then. Unfortunately, with a third wave of COVID-19 infections raging in many European countries, a massive in-person event (typical MWC attendance is over 100,000 people) still seems risky. In Spain, there’s also been a recent increase in coronavirus cases, though the “third wave” hasn’t yet been as severe as in some other EU countries like Germany or Italy.
The Mobile World Congress is officially still scheduled to go ahead on June 28. However, one has to wonder how many cancellations can it take before pulling the plug and switching to an online-only event.