Qualcomm has announced that it will skip Mobile World Congress’ in-person show in Barcelona this year, making it the latest major company to announce that it will miss the potential COVID-19 superspreader event in June in favor of an online presence at the show.
“While we appreciate the health and safety measures being put into place by the GSMA for MWC Barcelona, we have decided that it is in the best interest of our employees and customers for Qualcomm’s participation to be virtual this year,” the company said in a statement obtained by TechCrunch.
Qualcomm is by no means the only major company opting for a digital appearance at MWC this year: Google, Nokia, Ericsson, Sony, and Oracle have all pulled out of this year’s show entirely, while Samsung and Lenovo have announced that they will also attend digitally instead of their traditional in-person appearances.
MWC 2020 was one of the first major conferences to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the GSMA’s attempts to try to put on the show, even with rapidly increasing case numbers around the world and new travel restrictions.
The GSMA is still insisting on holding this year’s event with only minimal COVID-19 mitigation policies, including asking attendees to have had a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their arrival and plans for “controlling crowd density” — neither of which is expected to be enough to prevent the spread of the coronavirus at an event this large.
In 2020, MWC was only canceled after numerous major companies (like LG, ZTE, Sony, and Amazon) pulled out of the event. And while the GSMA has given no indication that it’ll be looking to adjust its plans for this year’s show yet, it’s possible the increasing number of exhibitors that won’t be attending could change that.