This year’s Mobile World Congress suffered a further blow with the news that Google, the owner of Android, would not be physically participating this year.
The internet giant is joined by fellow US tech stalwarts Intel and, is seems, Microsoft, according to Light Reading, which is keeping track of the MWC pull-outs. They provided the standard generic statements about it not being worth it if there’s a chance that someone might get Covid and talked a good game about the virtual event.
Of the three Google is the most significant since Intel and Microsoft are relatively peripheral players in the mobile world. Android is the platform on which something like four fifths of the world’s smartphones run. The GSMA, which runs MWC, sent us the following statement in response to Google’s decision.
“We count many leaders among the MWC family and recognize that for everyone, planning in a pandemic is complicated. Google is a valued partner and we respect their decision to shift to on-line participation. Our teams are collaborating to shape their involvement on the MWC virtual platform whilst other exhibitors like Verizon and Orange will join us in Barcelona. The in-person and virtual options are provided so that all friends of MWC Barcelona can attend and participate in a way that works for them.
“We recently announced details of MWC Barcelona’s multi-layered health and safety plan, Committed Community. The plan ensures an environment that will keep everyone safe, including staff, workers, exhibitors, visitors, suppliers, partners, and the people of Barcelona. Further updates to this plan will be released next week.”
This week’s mini flurry of cancellations will come as an alarming development to the GSMA, which was presumably hoping the calm following the withdrawal of Ericsson and Nokia signalled everyone else had decided to come. The obvious question after news like this concerns how many more exhibitors have to leave before they decide to make the event virtual-only. The passing of a new Spanish law mandating mask wearing in nearly all circumstances certainly makes visiting Spain a much less attractive proposition.