The coronavirus has already led the GSMA to adopt some health and safety guidelines for Mobile World Congress, including avoiding handshakes, but clearly these aren’t enough for LG which has cancelled its plans to attend the event at the end of the month.
“With the safety of its employees, partners and customers foremost in mind, LG has decided to withdraw from exhibiting and participating in MWC 2020 later this month in Barcelona, Spain,” the company wrote in a short statement. “This decision removes the risk of exposing hundreds of LG employees to international travel which has already become more restrictive as the virus continues to spread across borders.”
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This ultimately doesn’t change the company’s phone release plans, of course – just its ability to showcase said handsets to a wide audience of the world’s media in one place. The company has a ‘Plan B’ in this respect, and says it will be “holding separate events in the near future to announce its 2020 mobile products.”
Said plans will probably involve a follow up to the LG G8 ThinQ – a handset we sadly lamented as “overpriced and forgettable” when we reviewed it last year.
“LG Electronics thanks its supporters and the public for their understanding during these difficult and challenging times,” the statement concluded.
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Chinese firm ZTE has also announced it won’t be doing its usual press conference either*, and there’s now a very real risk of a domino effect pushing other smartphone vendors to follow suit. After all, LG was very clear that its reasoning was based on the safety of its own employees, and no company wants it implied that they’re any less concerned about worker welfare.
As things stand, MWC 2020 will still kick off in Barcelona on February 24, but how significant an event it will ultimately be is very much dependent on what happens in the 20 days between now and then. Watch this space.
*Update: ZTE has confirmed that while one press conference has been cancelled, it will still be a presence at MWC. “The ZTE Devices Press conference scheduled on February 25, which is just one of multiple planned activities, was cancelled,” the company said in a statement. “A wide variety of new 5G devices will be demonstrated at the ZTE booth during MWC 2020 as planned.”