Mobile World Congress, the biggest phone and wireless industry trade show of the year, is just weeks away, but the coronavirus outbreak is causing at least two companies to put their announcements on hold.
Both LG and ZTE announced Tuesday that the Wuhan coronavirus has changed their plans for the event. LG is pulling out of MWC altogether, the company said, while ZTE is canceling its MWC press conference, originally scheduled for Feb. 25 in Barcelona, and limiting its presence at the show to avoid making people uncomfortable, a rep told The Verge.
“This decision removes the risk of exposing hundreds of LG employees to international travel which has already become more restrictive as the virus continues to spread across borders,” LG announced in a news release on Tuesday. “In lieu of its participation in MWC, LG will be holding separate events in the near future to announce its 2020 mobile products.”
Technology companies from around the world gather in Barcelona each year to announce new smartphones and showcase breakthroughs in wireless technology. It’s unclear what ZTE and LG had planned to debut at the trade show, or whether other smartphone makers will follow suit.
The Wuhan coronavirus is spreading quickly throughout mainland China, with more than 17,000 cases and 361 deaths reported. Travel to and from the country has been curtailed due to the virus, meaning companies who proceed with their MWC plans will likely have to do so without their China-based employees.
The GSMA, which organizes MWC, said Tuesday in a statement that the show will “proceed as planned.” The trade group has put measures in place, including widespread availability of cleaning products and increased medical personnel presence, to “mitigate the spread of the virus.” The GSMA also recommends that MWC attendees avoid shaking hands, which could make the usual trade show networking events super awkward.
While we’ve heard strong rumors of other companies decreasing their presence at MWC or pulling out entirely we’ve not yet confirmed it. If you know something you can reach me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, DM me via Twitter, or contact us securely via SecureDrop.