Alternative headline: Coronavirus knocks Friday Futures off front page, MWC in shock.
The inevitable debate about what will become of MWC this year continues. We know that the fake news and coronavirus scaremongering has reached stratospheric levels.
We also know that LG has pulled out entirely and ZTE are making provisions that compare well with a B listed ‘killer virus’ movie. The mobile world is watching Huawei to see what it does.
We did a poll, a straw poll if you will, among Disruptive.Asia readers, and we put it at the bottom of Tony Poulos’ article pondering what the GSMA should do about MWC and we didn’t publicise it, as we could well have.
Here are the results (at last check there were almost 370 replies):
82% of respondents said that MWC should be postponed or cancelled and just 18% said it should go ahead as planned. Breaking this down, 39% said postpone it, 43% said cancel it. (See the latest results below)
The GSMA is playing it by the book. Obviously cancelling such an enormous event at this stage would be one of the biggest decisions of their life. Postponing may be impossible, to all intents and purposes. ‘February, Barcelona, MWC, ‘see you there’’ is a fixture from one year to the next. Meanwhile, the companies exhibiting and taking part suddenly having to rearrange their year will be a nightmare.
Meanwhile, finding a venue, with availability sometime soon, is nigh on impossible. And who knows how soon you could re-run it, if the virus continues to be a problem.
Some of those who commented on our poll make good points.
One reminds us that good old fashioned influenza kills more people by far that the coronavirus (or SARS before it) does. You should, this person says, take elementary hygiene precautions anyway, if you are attending an event like MWC.
Another believes that the GSMA is right to follow WHO guidelines and we should not panic.
The problem, as with most things we deal with, is the unknown factors, in this case the coronavirus. Influenza is a known factor.
What if it mutates and starts killing young, healthy people? What if the WHO makes the decision that air travel should be severely limited?
The situation is already causing people to seriously consider their actions and their travel plans. And this extends far beyond our mobile world and Asia. A friend arrived at Heathrow this morning on a 777 with just 74 people on board. From the States, not Asia.
Another possibility is to fold MWC into MWC Shanghai. The end of June is – you would think – far enough away to do this. But what if….?
Another comment perhaps gets to the heart of the matter. ‘If MWC is cancelled,’ he said, ‘and businesses that invest months of time and potentially millions of dollars to be in Barcelona do not see any drop in business during the year, would they go back?’
Or, as John Tanner says, why not scrap the boring bits. For a few years now journalists have been saying that MWC is getting out of hand, is too big, is losing focus and the interesting bits are in the grey areas, off site.
It is not easy and no-one envies the GSMA’s decision making over the next two weeks (yes, in two weeks’ time thousands of people will be arriving to prepare for Monday 24th).
Let us hope that whatever decision is made is made for the good of the industry and the wider community, not just the GSMA – and soon!