As of right now, Mobile World Congress 2021 is scheduled to take place, in-person, next month. However, Qualcomm is just the latest company to confirm that it won’t have an exhibit at the conference, following in the footsteps of several other major companies including Google, Nokia, Sony, Samsung, Lenovo, and others.
In a statement provided to TechCrunch, a Qualcomm spokesperson confirmed that it will be offering a virtual exhibition, similar to what we have seen from recent tech-focused conferences. CES 2021 was the latest of these, offering an all-online conference with users being able to watch presentations from the comfort of their couches, versus diving headfirst into a sticky situation in Las Vegas.
“While we appreciate the health and safety measures being put into place by the GSMA for MWC Barcelona, we have decided that it is in the best interest of our employees and customers for Qualcomm’s participation to be virtual this year. We look forward to engaging with the ecosystem through Cristiano Amon’s virtual keynote on June 28th and through our latest announcements and 5G demonstrations.”
With so many large and influential companies already opting for virtual conferences instead of being in-person, it could be just a matter of time before the GSMA makes the same decision it had to for last year. Currently, the conference is still being planned as an in-person event with some COVID-19 guidelines to “help” the event from becoming a super-spreader event.
Namely, GSMA is requiring that attendees must have had a negative COVID test within 72 hours of their arrival. The GSMA also claims that it has “plans for controlling crowd density”. However, that may not be enough as just one person with COVID could potentially spread to hundreds or thousands of attendees.
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out, especially considering that we still have IFA planned for later in the year, along with CES 2022 coming back in January next year.