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Google becomes biggest tech firm to pull out of Mobile World Congress’ in-person event

Trade fair will still be held in Barcelona this summer, despite cancellations from Sony, Facebook, BT, and Ericsson


05 April 2021 03:58 PM


Guifré Jordan | Barcelona

Google has become the latest tech firm to announce that it will not be attending the Mobile World Congress, held in Barcelona this summer.

Other companies that have been pulling out of in-person events over coronavirus fears include Facebook, Sony, BT, Ericsson, Nokia, and Oracle.

On April 5, LG also pulled out, but not due to the pandemic, but because it quits the mobile phone sector. 

Mobile World Congress’ organizers GSMA cancelled the fair’s 2020 edition due to the coronavirus pandemic, and delayed the 2021 show from March to the end of June. However, they have reassured hopeful attendees that the upcoming edition will a least partially be held in person and is "moving forward at full speed."

"Following our current COVID-19 travel restrictions and protocols, Google has made the decision to not exhibit at Mobile World Congress this year. We will continue to collaborate closely with GSMA and support our partners through virtual opportunities. We look forward to this year’s activities and seeing you in Barcelona in 2022," reads Google’s statement, as reported by The Verge.

Google is the biggest firm to date to withdraw from the event, with its parent company Alphabet worth $913 billion in market capitalization as of 2020, the fifth largest in the world according to Statista.

Up to 50,000 attendees

Organisers of the Mobile World Congress anticipate that between 45,000-50,000 attendees will be able to visit the congress in person this year, around half of the usual number of visitors.

The trade fair will also require visitors to present a negative PCR test performed no longer than 72 hours prior to arriving. This year’s Mobile World Congress is scheduled to take place between June 28 to July 1.

The event will have three Covid-19 rapid test points at the entrances of the Fira de Barcelona, the hall where the event is held. Additionally, 13,000 hand gel dispensers will be installed in the facility.



  • Letters spell 'Google' during the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai (courtesy of Reuters)

  • Letters spell 'Google' during the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai (courtesy of Reuters)