LG Electronics, they of the G-series smartphones and a few other smartphone ranges we don’t hear enough about, has pulled out of this year’s Mobile World Congress event being held in Barcelona, Spain from 24 to 27 February.
The culprit, of course, is the coronavirus taking over social media. The infectious disease has turned up in several countries around the world, having infected more than 20,000 people and killed nearly 500 to date.
LG’s decision to pull out of the conference isn’t the first. Chinese smartphone maker ZTE has also chosen not to attend, for the same reasons. If the trend continues, MWC may lose the likes of Huawei and/or Xiaomi and OnePlus, plus some of the lesser-known names, to the coronavirus.
Speaking to The Verge, LG said “With the safety of its employees and general public foremost in mind, LG has decided to withdraw from exhibiting and participating in MWC 2020 later this month in Barcelona, Spain. This decision will prevent needlessly exposing hundreds of LG employees to international travel, which most health experts have advised.”
“In lieu of its participation in MWC, LG will be holding separate events in the near future to announce its 2020 mobile products.”
Mobile World is still keen
Even though there are some cancellations, Mobile World’s organisers have announced that the show will go ahead as planned. They’ve also revealed improved hygiene procedures, more prominent awareness campaigns, and other tweaks to ensure that the coronavirus doesn’t spread around the planet as a result of MWC.
The cancellations might have a slightly different effect on the world’s most prominent mobile conference. LG’s bailing on the event but they’re hosting their own event — something that Samsung already does, sorta. This parallels the way that gaming conference E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo) has fragmented in recent years, leading to several events running at the same time that aren’t affiliated with the expo. It’s possible that the coronavirus could be a catalyst for the fragmentation of MWC — though we won’t see those effects for at least a year or two, should they take place.