MWC 2021 – a dearth of news flow and a pale shadow of its former self

MWC 2021
Not so many people at MWC 2021

Mobile World Congress (MWC) is in full swing but a dearth of news flow and footfall at the event reveals that MWC 2021 is a very pale shadow of its former self meaning that CES 2022 needs to be a big success to breathe life back into the technology conference circuit.

The first day of MWC is usually awash with news detailing product announcements, partnerships and so on but this year there is almost nothing.

So little is there that while I was assessing the daily technology news flow for my daily newsletter, the author completely forgot that MWC was even happening until an email arrived from the GSMA reminding him that it was day 2.

The events of day 1 were dominated by companies who are not present and included:

  • First, Samsung said almost nothing other than to confirm what Google had already said in that it would ditch Tizen for its watches and switch to Wear OS.
  • The company revealed more details of the platform but did not launch a product instead of saving that launch for the event it has planned later in 2021.
  • Effectively this was a placeholder event held by Samsung (I suspect at the request of the GSMA) as the technology industry was none the wiser after this event than before.
  • Second, Qualcomm, also not present, did have something to say, and it launched its Snapdragon 888 Plus 5G Mobile Platform.
  • This new chipset has better processing capability and a 20% increase in performance from its AI engine.
  • More importantly, Qualcomm is winning support for 5G at mmWave frequencies from both operators and vendors outside of the USA, which is crucial as this is an area where Qualcomm’s chips really excel.
  • Third, Lenovo launched three new tablets and a smart clock.

In my opinion, very little has changed with the MWC 2021 event other than to demonstrate that if the technology conference circuit is to survive, things have to go back to the way they were before the pandemic.

The value in these conferences is that the entire industry turns up in one place for four days where one can meet and do business with partners, suppliers, and customers from all areas of the world in one go.

Because so much of the industry, including almost all of the industry analysis and the press, is not there, this value has been completely lost and unless it comes back, these events are likely to wither and die.

Hence, much like CES 2021, MWC 2021 is a placeholder hopefully for better things to come as the pandemic comes under control.

All eyes now turn to CES 2022 which the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) has announced will be held physically in January 2022.

Following from the non-event that was the CES all-digital event, this needs to be a smashing success otherwise people will begin to wonder why they have made the trek to Las Vegas.

I suspect that the future of MWC will depend greatly on how well CES 2022 goes which I am currently planning on attending.

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