Sony, Ericsson and Nokia withdraw from MWC as GSMA plans in-person event
This year Mobile World Congress (MWC) may see a muted response as several big names have backed out from the conference owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. The organiser of the MWC, GSMA, had decided to hold an in-person conference this year in Barcelona.
According to a CNET report, top brands that have decided to skip the annual conference are Ericsson, Nokia, and Sony.
"Sony Mobile has taken the decision that it will not be participating in MWC 2021," a company spokesperson told the publication. "As the world increasingly shifts towards digital and online opportunities to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Sony Mobile will communicate in ways that can deliver our exciting product news to a wider audience."
GSMA said that it respected Ericsson's decision to pull out from the conference. It, however, also pointed out the plans to set up a virtual platform to help companies and journalists who are unable to attend the conference in person.
Announcing its decision to withdraw from the conference, Nokia pointed out that the global vaccine rollout was still in the early stages. Ericsson, which was the first to announce the withdrawal, had also given similar reasons to cancel its participation.
Last month, GSMA said that they were going ahead with an in-person event this year. John Hoffman, CEO of GSM Association (the organisers of MWC), said that they were expecting about 50,000 people at the 2021 edition of the conference. The event usually is attended by more than 100,000 people.
The move to hold an in-person conference had raised several concerns. Many feared that it could lead to Covid-19 superspreader events. European countries have already faced multiple waves of pandemic. Even as the vaccines have begun rolling out, it may take more months or years to get everyone vaccinated.