Coronavirus takes down Mobile World Congress

Coronavirus could topple the largest telecom trade event in the world

Mobile World Congress, hosted each February in Barcelona, has grown to be the largest telecom and phone related conference, bringing over 100 thousand visitors from around the world and pushing Barcelona to its limits. Due to concerns about coronavirus, many major sponsors and participants have backed out of the event, including Nokia, Siemens, Ericsson, Amazon, Vivo, LG, Facebook, Sony, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and BT. Organizers decided on Wednesday to cancel this year’s event. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The damage of the virus to this industry fixture could be fatal. With two weeks to go before the event, it is nearly impossible for the organizers, the GSMA trade organization, to curtail costs on venues, fixtures, signage, and vendor contracts. Partial payments by sponsors will not be adequate to stem losses, requiring the operators to declare Force Majeure to extract full payment. Hopefully this disaster will not do what the PC bubble of 2001/2002 did to Comdex, the largest tech tradeshow of the time. Comdex had a recession-related off year in 2001 and was never able to recover, shuttering after its 2003 edition. MWC, unlike Comdex, has remained highly relevant, but a strange thing happens when people skip a mainstay trade event and determine that their business didn’t suffer for the absence.

Samsung’s Unpacked event reveals new devices

The new products released at Tuesday’s event include:

  • Galaxy Z Flip — the $1400 foldable phone that we have been waiting for.
  • Three new Galaxy S20 phones now supporting 5G ($1000 to $1400)
  • Galaxy Buds+ – Samsung’s answer to AirPods but with 11 hours of battery life


dis-rup-shun: Samsung’s great looking products continue to be industry leaders and the Galaxy S10’s photos are shockingly great. If the S20 has improved the camera further, then arguments for owning a separate camera device are just about over.

App determines if you have been in contact with coronavirus 

China turns to technology to contain the coronavirus. A number of agencies have developed an app that determines if the user has been in close contact with someone who has the virus, or with someone who has been in close proximity to someone with the virus. The app uses data from popular WeChat and QQ apps, which contain location and contact information for users. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The effectiveness of this app in helping slow the spread of coronavirus will offer insight on the value of sharing location and private contact information. In China, choosing not to share this data may not be an option, but in public debates about the circumstances in which sharing personal data with government bodies should be required, this will provide an important new talking point.

Just how much has TV watching changed?

According to Neilsen, the use of streaming video services has nearly doubled in two years. In 2019 532 original scripted programs aired on TV and 646,152 unique program titles were accessible on a streaming or over the air service. 60% of consumers have more than one streaming service, and nearly half of adults 18 to 34 claimed to have more than two services. It appears that new services are additive — not cannibalizing on the existing two or three services. Hollywood Reporter

dis-rup-shun: This is the golden age of television. Not only are consumers able to watch what they want, when they want, on any device they want, but their insatiable appetite (demand) is driving the supply of programming to unprecedented levels, and that volume of content is forcing studios to compete on quality. And quality is what we are getting, but the bigger question is will the streaming business model support the billions that are being spent on programming? At some point, consumer appetites are satiated and streaming channels are caught in a price war. Such a time appears to be at least a couple of years into the future. In the meantime, binge away.