MWC cellphone present cancellation a ‘nightmare’ for companies

Working outside the Fira conference centreImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Preparations on the occasion included well being and security measures however many companies nonetheless withdrew

The cancellation of know-how convention Mobile World Congress has left one start-up founder counting the price in potential misplaced enterprise.

Vittorio Di Mauro informed the BBC the scenario was “a nightmare”.

Many massive names pulled out of the occasion over considerations in regards to the unfold of coronavirus.

Organiser the GSMA mentioned that meant it was “impossible” for the occasion to go forward, including it was a “dark day” within the historical past of the annual tech occasion.

Mr Di Mauro runs Connectlab which makes web linked units. His agency had spent round 50,000 euros on the convention, which he mentioned was “a lot of money for us” however not as important as the shortage of contact with shoppers.

“We are very disappointed, and not just because of the money we spent but not having the chance to meet customers. Barcelona is much more than a trade show, it is a meeting point for everyone in the industry,” he informed the BBC.

Head scratching

His agency is already dealing with issues associated to the coronavirus outbreak as its manufacturing base is in Shenzhen, the place most of the factories stay closed to cease the unfold of the virus.

“These past couple of weeks have been a nightmare,” he mentioned. “This is a difficult time, like driving on the motorway and a fog descends with no visibility and you don’t know what is ahead of you.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tech companies must be again in Barcelona for subsequent yr’s MWC

When he heard MWC was cancelled, he despatched a bunch of hasty emails rearranging conferences with shoppers in Europe and is considering a visit to satisfy prospects primarily based within the US – all of which is able to imply extra flights and extra expense.

“I woke up and I was scratching my head about what to do. Some meetings at MWC are organised but some happen by chance, so how do we recreate that?”

However, he plans to return to the occasion subsequent yr.

“Big companies may decide that they can do without Barcelona but that’s not possible for companies like us. Everyone is in one place and that is very valuable,” he mentioned.

‘Dark day’

Mobile analyst Ben Wood mentioned many smaller companies could be contemplating whether or not to attend subsequent yr as a result of “they have had to swallow many of the costs from this year’s show”.

“The GSMA now needs to be careful that there is not a knock-on effect from this year’s cancellation. Major companies and many attendees will be reviewing the importance of MWC to their business and the GSMA must work hard to have a clear path forward,” he mentioned.

And he identified the massive tech gamers typically hosted their very own occasions – “set-piece launches where they can control the message away from the hustle and bustle of a tradeshow”.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption At a press convention the day after, the GSMA got down to clarify its causes for cancelling the convention

Many of these companies at the moment are rapidly arranging press conferences for brand spanking new merchandise that they’d meant to point out off on the convention.

Sony plans to launch its new cellphone – anticipated to be the Xperia 2 – through a YouTube video on the time the press convention was scheduled to happen.

Meanwhile, organisers of the occasion have been making an attempt to make clear why the present was cancelled amid hypothesis in regards to the true purpose.

“This is not about money – it’s about health and safety and the reputation of our show,” mentioned Mats Granryd, director common of the GSMA.

Rumours had circulated that the organisers had wished metropolis officers to declare a well being emergency in an effort to declare again bills on insurance coverage.

Mr Granryd described occasions as a “force majeure”, a authorized time period for unforeseeable circumstances.

“There is no way you can insure yourself out of a force majeure situation.”

According to its web site, the GSMA takes out customary insurance coverage cowl on behalf of exhibitors, which doesn’t cowl the unfold of communicable ailments until well being authorities problem travel restrictions.

The association’s chief govt, John Hoffman, promised the occasion can be again subsequent yr.

“It is a very dark day, it is very disappointing. But we know the sun will shine,” he mentioned. “This is about our future together, and we look forward to hosting all of you, all of our partners from around the world, for MWC ’21.”