Qualcomm won’t be exhibiting in-person at MWC

Another major name in mobile has confirmed that it won’t be exhibiting at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Chip giant Qualcomm is joining a list that already includes Google, IBM, Nokia, Sony, Oracle, Ericsson and, most recently, Samsung and Lenovo.

In a statement offered to TechCrunch, a spokesperson for the company confirmed that it will be a taking a similar approach as many of the others, opting to “attend” virtually.

“While we appreciate the health and safety measures being put into place by the GSMA for MWC Barcelona, we have decided that it is in the best interest of our employees and customers for Qualcomm’s participation to be virtual this year,” the company said. “We look forward to engaging with the ecosystem through Cristiano Amon’s virtual keynote on June 28th and through our latest announcements and 5G demonstrations.”

There are shades of the lead-up to last year’s event, which similarly found companies opting out, one by one. Ultimately the show’s governing body, the GSMA, pulled the plug. Of course, things are different in 2021. After nearly a year and a half, there are fewer unknowns and a vaccination rollout has begun in much of the world.

But there are still plenty of reasons for people and companies to take a cautious approach when it comes to flying around the world and attending an event in a potentially packed room. Ultimately, it’s probably not worth the perceived risk or discomfort of staff.

For these reasons and more, it’s hard to blame companies like Qualcomm. Given what we know, it seems unlikely that the organization would pull the plug entirely at this late stage, but things look increasingly dependent on the virtual aspect of the show’s hybrid approach. It also seems possible that the in-person trade will be forever changed after the events of the past two years.