The writing has seemingly been on the wall for days, but this year's edition of Mobile World Congress, the world's largest mobile technology event, has been canceled. In a statement, the GSMA CEO, John Hoffman, said that because of the "global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances", it becomes "impossible for the GSMA to hold the event".
Throughout this week, multiple major companies had announced they would be giving up on their plans to be at the event, or attending with a reduced presence. The rapid surge in the number of cancellations is likely one of the reasons the GSMA has decided to cancel this year's MWC. Speculation from earlier in the day suggested that the organization wanted to cancel the event, but that due to the inability to get an insurance payout, had decided to move forward with it. That no longer seems to be the case.
Almost every major smartphone manufacturer tends to make some form of product announcement at MWC, and some of the companies that had already canceled their attendance have shared their plans for those product launches. Sony, for its part, will host a virtual launch event on its Xperia YouTube channel.
In addition to the impact on the technology world, the withdrawal will heavily impact the city of Barcelona, where many businesses rely on visitors to drive profits. The event also creates around 14,000 temporary jobs in the region.
While this year's edition of MWC won't be going through, the GSMA has stated that it and the host city will continue to work together to host future editions of the event.