Pullouts over coronavirus fears mar MWC
The world's largest mobile event is losing some of its biggest names.Amazon (AMZN), Ericsson (ERIC) and Sony (SNE) are withdrawing from this year's Mobile World Congress because of the risk that attendees could catch the coronavirus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
The event, scheduled to take place in Barcelona from February 24-27, is one of the tech industry's most important annual gatherings. It typically draws more than 100,000 attendees and over 2,400 companies, including the sector's biggest players who use it to launch new products and showcase their latest innovations.
But this year it will be missing some of its headline exhibitors including Amazon, one of the world's handful of $1 trillion companies, in yet another example of the impact that the coronavirus outbreak is having on businesses globally.
"Due to the outbreak and continued concerns about novel coronavirus, Amazon will withdraw from exhibiting and participating in Mobile World Congress 2020," the company said in a statement. Amazon's cloud computing arm, Amazon Web Services, was due to host a dozen sessions covering topics such as 5G connectivity and artificial intelligence.
The summit will go ahead as planned, event organizer and mobile operator lobbying group GSMA said in a statement, but it will be restricting access for visitors from China. Despite the withdrawal of "some large exhibitors ... we remain more than 2,800 exhibitors strong," it said.
Sony said its press conference will now take place on YouTube.
Computer chipmaker Nvidia also pulled out of this year's event.
"Given public health risks around the coronavirus, ensuring the safety of our colleagues, partners and customers is our highest concern," the US firm, which makes high-end graphics chips for PC video games, self-driving cars and supercomputers, said in a blog post Friday. "We regret not attending, but believe this is the right decision," it added.
Other companies skipping the Mobile World Congress include software provider Amdocs (DOX) and South Korean electronics giant LG.