MWC 2020 was canceled last week, for the first time in around 30 years. We’re talking about a show where hundreds of thousands of people go. It’s an annual event that everyone in Spain knows about, a time when cabbies make good money, restaurants are packed and hotel fees are absurdly high. Why was this huge event canceled? Due to the coronavirus threat. As the pandemic spreads, the implications for the economy and the tech industry become clearer and the situation, more dire.
MWC was rightfully canceled, considering GSMA didn’t want to have the halls empty or risk public backlash by sticking to their guns. One thing’s for sure: I don’t wanna be in their place now.
This decision comes with serious consequences, as GSMA’s budget came from ticket selling and Barcelona depended on the money made and spent in the last week of February. It’s not a walk in the park for the exhibitors, either. They’ve had to cancel conference venues and postpone launches with the promotional activities that followed.
Sony and Motorola had phone announcements, as well as Vivo and Oppo. The Apex 2020 would have been a great concept to see and Find X2, probably another cutting-edge phone. TCL was about to launch its first branded 5G phones properly, putting their name on the mobile map. Intel was going to show their influence in the 5G space and Xiaomi had planned to globally launch the Mi 10 series. This was going to be a high stakes show with high expectations. But honestly, not even tech sharks would put a product before their people.
The sad truth is, with people being quarantined around the world, it’s a bit reckless to be socializing in large gatherings right now. Especially places where people from all corners of the world reunite. Last year, from the 109000 visitors, 6% came from China and 16% from the Asia Pacific region.
How serious is the situation? How will this epidemic affect the tech industry? It’s hard to say but Silicon Valley is feeling the ripples already. I mean imagine: the epicenter of the outbreak is Wuhan, China but the virus has spread to more than 20 other countries by now. Besides China, Japan has the most confirmed cases. Officially, we know that there are about 70,000 people affected and 1775 deaths worldwide.
Hospitals are built in days in Wuhan to keep up with the outbreak. Cash is being disinfected or burned in China. In Europe, there has been one death in France and other 12 confirmed cases there. What may have started as an isolated incident has become a public health emergency, on WHO’s radar. No one wants to instill global panic, but until an antidote is found, every country has to take its measures of prevention.
While China is keeping people in their houses, authorities across Asia, United States, Australia and more are denying entry to noncitizens who have traveled to China recently. Visas for Chinese people are not issued at the moment. British Airlines, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways are several big airline companies canceling flights to mainland China.
These are hard times but China’s foreign minister knows no country can afford to cut ties with them. “These countries need to interact with China”, he said. And, I gotta agree. China is, after all, the second biggest economic power in the world! Apple, Google and many other tech companies manufacture their products in China. They were forced to close the factories for a while or send employees home but these measures are not sustainable in the long run. Nintendo’s production and shipment of the Switch have been delayed, because the console is made in China. There’s already talk of a recession in Germany. The country relies on its exports to China.
Will 2020 be a series of deja-vus? Will other tech events suffer the fate of MWC? It seems so, especially if they’re scheduled for spring and summer. Right now, we know that Black Hat has been postponed for fall. The event about computer security trends was going to take place in Singapore, at the beginning of April.
Learn about other postponed events in the video above!