#MWC2021 Organisers Hedge Their Bets

Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief

The GSMA, the body that organises Mobile World Congress, has confirmed to TechRadar that it (still) plans for #MWC2021 to go ahead BUT that it is not, ruling out a virtual alternative.

Back in March, #MWC2020 was one of the first big technology events to have absolutely no choice but to cancel and it says something about the situation we are all in at the moment, that organisers, exhibitors and potential attendees are now deliberating what should happen early next year.

The first big tech show of next year, namely #CES2021 that would have taken place in Las Vegas in early January 2021 has already been cancelled.

#ISE2021 is scheduled to take place February 2-5, 2021 in Barcelona.

A few weeks later, at the same venue in Barcelona, #MWC2021 is scheduled for March 1-4, 2021.

A spokesperson for the GSMA told TechRadar, “We are working to ensure MWC 2021 is an unmissable event. We are constantly monitoring the situation, as we did with MWC 2020. This includes seeking expert health and safety advice. The situation is complex and new. We are learning all the time and working with Fira and our partners to take all actions that ensure a safe environment and an inspiring experience. MWC 20 taught us to remain flexible and to pivot quickly to emergent information”.

TechRadar wrote “Mobile World Congress’s next show is currently set for March 1 in 2021, so will happen a few months after CES. If the pandemic continues, that may mean the show is forced to switch to a virtual format in a similar way to CES”.

We understand that the GSMA is already planning to host some elements of the show virtually, especially for those who won’t be able to travel to Barcelona even if the event does go ahead.

The GSMA’s position is in marked contrast to that of Integrated Systems Europe. the organisers behind #ISE2021, who some may say, have been a little over the top recently, insisting that their event is happening and that it will be safe to exhibit and attend.

The point perhaps, that all of these show organisers are missing (I include the National Retail Federation here as January’s #NRF2021 has also been cancelled / postponed until later in 2021) is that the issue is not just one of #COVID19 safety, companies are laying people off, left right and centre, many nations are in a recession – the means (I mean money) and the will to spend money they don’t necessarily have is not necessarily there.

It is rumoured that LG saved almost EUR six million this year by not exhibiting at #ISE2020 and #MWC2020 – money well saved and that would have immediately hit their bottom line. Are potential exhibitors willing to spend similar sums in 2021 when no-one really knows where / when this all might end?

Add in the fact that in many industries, people are in no mood to celebrate or even being seen to celebrate, with a trade show and you can see for yourself that it is not looking good for any large industry event in the first half of 2021.

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