Oppo and Xiaomi said they would postpone their phone starts, which were originally scheduled for MWC. They had previously considered plans to continue their events in Barcelona, although the official conference will not take place. Huawei, the second largest phone maker in the world, hasn't made a decision about its event scheduled for February 23. A Huawei spokesman said the company should know more on Friday.
"Oppo respects and understands the GSMA's decision to cancel the MWC Barcelona 2020 event," the Chinese mobile phone manufacturer said in a statement. "After serious consideration, we also decided to postpone the OPPO Find X2 Global Launch Event, which was originally scheduled for February 22nd." Oppo plans to hold the event for its latest flagshipsometime in March.
"After much thought, Xiaomi postponed its Mi 10 kick-off event – originally scheduled for February 23 in Barcelona," the company said. "We apologize for any inconvenience and will be happy to provide the updated time and location after confirmation."
The annual MWC trade fair brings companies from all over the world together, with many using the week-long trade fair as a location for presenting their latest. This year, new phones from almost all major Android vendors and network updates with the new superfast connectivity should be available. Although 5G became a reality last year, it could become mainstream this year.
MWC is the key to the mobile industry for two important reasons: This is where vendors get attention for their latest devices, and where businesses do business behind the scenes. This includes that network operators agree to offer devices from smaller players that are not named Apple or Samsung. This year's show should officially take place from February 24th to 27th. The press conferences started on February 21.
The GSMA canceled the entire conference on Wednesday. The show's organizer said the coronavirus and the associated COVID-19 disease made it "impossible" to continue the show.
The new corona virus was discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December. By Thursday, the tribe had infected more than 60,000 people and claimed more than 1,300 lives. It is spread beyond the borders of China to places like the United States, Japan and Australia. Authorities around the world have restricted travel and enforced quarantines to protect themselves from spreading.
MWC's cancellation disrupts the start – and dealmaking – of more than 2,000 companies wishing to attend the show. For most, this means holding their own events or simply publishing press releases to reveal their latest devices. Many could delay their product launches overall while figuring out what to do. Ultimately, we may all have to wait longer to hear about and buy the latest devices. And the impact of fewer behind-the-scenes meetings is still unknown. Since all major mobile phone companies (with the exception of Apple) participate in MWC, partnerships are often formed at the fair.
As of Wednesday, some companies, particularly Chinese mobile operators, were considering continuing their upcoming events in Barcelona. The GSMA asked Chinese attendees to quarantine executives outside of China two weeks before the show. Huawei and Oppo, among others, had already deployed their China-based teams to Europe to ensure they were healthy before MWC.
It now appears that most of the events will take place alone.
"The cancellation of MWC due to corona virus will pose a number of short and medium term challenges for the smartphone industry this year and could have far-reaching ramifications for the future," said Stephen Mears, an analyst at Futuresource. "In particular, the smartphone industry, which had signed a contract for the past two consecutive years, desperately needed a win."