Pandemic-era Mobile World Congress tech fair kicks off.
Despite many top smartphone brands skipping MWC 2021, the world's biggest tech trade show is going ahead in a new hybrid setting. Here's what to expect.
BARCELONA, Spain (BT) Mobile World Congress (MWC), the world’s biggest mobile event of the year, will begin on June 28 in Barcelona.
Unlike last year when the event got cancelled due to the growing cases of Covid-19, one of the biggest tradeshows is returning this year in a hybrid form. The annual telecom industry gathering is synonymous with some big announcements in the past, and although not every major tech company is convinced with the new hybrid settings of the event, we are still excited about MWC 2021.
A major wireless technology trade fair kicked off in Barcelona on Monday with scaled-back attendance and beefed-up health and safety measures, changes that reflect the new reality for industry conventions in the pandemic era.
Brands like Goggle, Nokia, Xiaomi, Facebook and Sony aren’t attending this year’s in-person event, though it’s not clear if they have plans to announce new products even virtually. Still, there’s a lot of rumours being passed around what we can expect from this year’s MWC.
The show, known as MWC, is typically a glitzy and well-attended affair, with tech and telecom companies setting up elaborate pavilions to unveil the latest mobile devices, schmooze clients and lobby government officials.
Other visitors will be attending virtually, as will a third of the show’s 350 speakers, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
To help make the four-day show happen, Spanish authorities agreed to exempt exhibitors, attendees, sponsors and partners from travel restrictions that might otherwise prevent them from entering the country.
Spain eased COVID-19 restrictions on Saturday by scrapping a requirement to wear face masks outdoors, as long as people remain at least 1.5 meters (5 feet) apart. Masks remain mandatory indoors in public places and on public transport.
Barcelona has hosted MWC since 2006 and last year’s cancellation dealt a major economic blow to the city, with lost revenue for hotels, restaurants and taxi companies.
What is Mobile World Congress?
Mobile World Congress, better known as MWC Barcelona, is an annual event focused on innovations in the telecom industry. Hosted by GSMA, the flagship event is attended by the major telecom operators, smartphone companies, component manufacturers, trade insiders, media, and representatives from telecom ministries around the world.
Who’s attending Mobile World Congress 2021?
Samsung has confirmed its participation at the annual Mobile World Congress, though don’t expect a new smartphone to be launched at the company’s virtual event. Instead, Samsung will mostly talk about its Galaxy ecosystem, particularly how it’s going to reimagine the world of smartwatches. Last month, both Google and Samsung debuted a brand new smartwatch platform called Wear after the tech giants decided to merge Wear OS and Tizen together. At MWC 2021, we might get the first look at the upcoming Galaxy Watch 4, the new Apple Watch competitor from the South Korean tech giant. Samsung’s MWC 2021 event will be streamed on June 28 (tomorrow) at 10:48 pm.
Chipset giant Intel is also participating at MWC 2021. The company is holding a virtual event, where it will focus on 5G and AI. Meanwhile, Lenovo too has confirmed its presence at the world’s biggest mobile-focused show. In fact, Lenovo has already announced a bunch of new laptops, Chromebooks and accessories ahead of MWC. The company is expected to announce more products on June 28.
Elon Musk’s keynote is highly-anticipated
SpaceX chief and Tesla CEO Elon Musk is scheduled to deliver a keynote on Tuesday, where he’s expected to talk about his internet satellite project Starlink. In case you are not familiar, Starlink allows people to connect to the internet via a satellite dish placed on the rooftop of the home. The idea behind Starlink is to provide faster internet access in those areas where broadband connectivity is poor.
Other big tech industry trade fairs disrupted by the pandemic are planning to return in force, including Berlin’s IFA in September, Lisbon’s WebSummit set for November and CES in Las Vegas in January.