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MWC Shanghai Open, Doubts About Barcelona

Question marks remain over Mobile World Congress Barcelona, even as MWC Shanghai steams ahead in a hybrid virtual/in-person format.

The Chinese tech show opened yesterday, with more than 20,000 expected to attend; this represents just a third of the last MWC Shanghai, which pulled in around 60,000 people. Innovations in display include Huawei’s foldable Mate X2; a 125-watt flash charger from Oppo; and ZTE’s Axon 30, its second crack at a smartphone with selfie camera hidden under the display.

John Hoffman, CEO of MWC organiser GSMA, hailed the event – which has mandated facemasks, and enforces strict capacity limits at exhibitor stands – as a new kind of trade show experience.

“Today marks an important milestone for Asia’s mobile industry and the wider region’s economy. MWC Shanghai 2021 is the first hybrid event of its kind bringing innovations and ideas to attendees in-person and online.

“Sadly, I cannot be there in person but will connect as a virtual attendee to join the debate and witness technology innovations that are already shaping our future. I’m looking forward to engaging with you during the proceedings and hearing your thoughts after its close,” he said.

According to Mats Granryd, director general of the GSMA, plans are underway to bring back MWC Barcelona around June.

“It’s been a tough 12 months but a path to a post-pandemic world is starting to emerge. Importantly, 5G and mobile communications sit at the heart of that recovery.

“The momentum created in Shanghai will be carried on to the Barcelona event, which will mark the next step forward for our industry,” he said.

Analysts including Ian Fogg are sceptical, however, with Fogg calling the plans “optimistic”, given the pandemic has left most people unwilling and/or unable to travel. According to Fogg, June would be an “iffy” date for MWC Barcelona, with even September a “maybe”.

MWC Shanghai will run until tomorrow, February 25.

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