While the outlook for large trade shows this year is still in question generally, telecom equipment giant Ericsson has already decided not to attend GSMA’s MWC Los Angeles event in 2020.
“Ericsson is currently not participating at events, and we will not physically participate at MWC LA,” an Ericsson spokesperson confirmed to FierceWireless.
This may not come as a surprise, given the appetite for large in-person events this year is still uncertain at best, but Ericsson arguably has been among the largest exhibitors at MWC LA. It was one of the first to exit from MWC Barcelona in February in light of the COVID-19 crisis before the show was officially canceled. And separately, it moved quickly to take internal and customer-facing steps in the face of the pandemic.
Whether GSMA’s young U.S.-based MWC show, held in partnership with CTIA, will happen remains to be seen. As of now it’s still scheduled to take place in Los Angeles October 28-30. The website remains up, but with little activity in terms of exhibitors, agendas or registration offers. There’s also the question of how comfortable attendees and companies will feel at large events – a question that stretches across industries and is certainly not specific to the MWC LA event.
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A GSMA spokesperson said in emailed comments to Fierce: “MWC LA is upcoming, and we are monitoring the situation closely as we’ve done with all our events. We regularly meet with stakeholders and of course seek the relevant expert advice in consideration of the global pandemic. Our websites offer the most up-to-date information on all events scheduled.”
Ericsson didn’t say it won’t be participating at all – although if the show goes on, the vendor’s physical absence isn’t likely to go unnoticed.
An Ericsson representative cited the vendor’s pivot to digital engagement activities.
“Those have been delivering great results with high quality. We are committed to providing a safe and healthy work environment for all employees, and we will continue to monitor the situation with COVID-19, and the guidelines from WHO as well as local government health organizations.”
Though not said directly, it appears a digital presence at MWC LA is not off the table for Ericsson.
Large events have been cancelled across industries as the pandemic hit, likely impacting both those attendees and exhibitors that rely on them for sales and meetings, as well as the host organizations that depend on the events for revenue.
For the GSMA, the cancellation of its flagship MWC Barcelona event, which accounts for around 80% of its annual revenue, according to Bloomberg, was a major blow.
The mobile industry’s trade body cut 20% of its roughly 1,000 global workforce as part of an effort to reduce costs and ensure it can host the MWC Barcelona event in 2021.
The MWC Los Angeles event has been held for just three years and attracts a significantly smaller crowd.
CES is one massive tech show that has remained committed to holding its in-person event, which takes place in Las Vegas in early January 2021. That event typically attracts more than 175,000 visitors, according to PCMag. CTA said CES 2021 will continue expanding its digital reach, with more live-streamed CES content and other digital and virtual opportunities.