NEW YORK -- The Mobile World Congress, the world's largest mobile trade show hosted by Barcelona, has been canceled after major players such as Ericsson and Nokia withdrew due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, its organizer announced Wednesday.
The convention, originally scheduled for Feb. 24 to 27, was shelved "with due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country," said John Hoffman, CEO of organizer GSMA, in a Wednesday press release, adding that "the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible to hold the event."
The cancellation of the marquee event is the latest sign that the virus outbreak, now in its third month, is disrupting economic activity not only within China but around the world. Desperate to salvage the show, Spanish health officials had said earlier in the day that there was no reason to cancel the event.
"The impact on small companies who have invested a disproportionate amount of their budgets and time on this event should not be underestimated," said Geoff Blaber, an analyst with market research firm CCS Insight. "MWC is an anchor event for many and now they face the challenge of having to figure out what is the best way to salvage something from this difficult situation."
But "the bigger question is the impact of coronavirus on supply chains and manufacturing," Blaber added.
Samsung Electronics recently told the Vietnamese government that the company's revenue in that country could plunge by half this year if customs clearance problems, which have been holding back shipments of materials, are not resolved, local media reported.
Key Apple suppliers told Nikkei Asian Review labor shortages could threaten the American tech company's plan to ramp up smartphone production this year, as factories struggle to get back to work in full throttle even after an extension of the Lunar New Year holiday.
The coronavirus has claimed over 1,000 lives in mainland China out of over 40,000 confirmed cases. More than 100 countries around the world have imposed some form of restrictions on travel to and from China.