Mobile World Congress exceeds expectations as over 60,000 attend

Visitor numbers only half of last pre-pandemic edition while organizers believe economic impact will be €240m

A Mobile World Congress attendee in a virtual concert of Dua Lipa through metaverse (by Lluís Sibils)
A Mobile World Congress attendee in a virtual concert of Dua Lipa through metaverse (by Lluís Sibils) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

March 3, 2022 05:07 PM

The Mobile World Congress has exceeded expectations as over 60,000 people attended the trade show, according to figures released by the organizing company, GSMA, on Thursday evening as the event was coming to a close.

Indeed, MWC's goal was reaching 60,000 attendees, almost half of the figure in pre-pandemic times – 109,000 in 2019. Yet, given that Covid-19 is still present and the Omicron wave unfolded as exhibitors were deciding whether to take part, GSMA's CEO, John Hoffman, defended the results this year calling them "phenomenal."

Officials registered almost 200 different nationalities and 1,900 exhibitors. 

The economic impact of this year's Mobile World Congress is expected to exceed €240 million.

The event that lasted four days in Barcelona was the hope for plenty of Catalan sectors to restart business after coronavirus. In 2021, the congress was held in June with only 20,000 attendees. 

Some of these sectors saw MWC as a "starting point for normality,", especially for hotels, restaurants, and taxis. 

A new world emerges at MWC

One of the main topics at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year was the metaverse

The term doesn’t yet refer to any one specific form of technology but rather speaks to a broader structure of how people will interact with technology and with other people on the internet.

If the internet is something that we look at, the metaverse is an idea of a form of the internet that we will experience from within, an immersive, spatial experience.

Russia-Ukraine conflict disinformation

During the Mobile World Congress, several experts and start-ups warned of the spread of fake news and disinformation regarding the Ukraine-Russia war. 

The director of the Digital Future Society, Cristina Colom, explained that in five days of open warfare, around 700 fake videos and photos have already been detected.

Colom said apart from the “conventional war” they had been seeing in Ukraine, “there is another battle in cyberspace" with the spread of fake news – not only through traditional channels but also through artificial intelligence (AI) and bots.

The director said that false information spreads very easily which is why she claimed to be also committed to “educating society” to understand and “discern fake news from real news” through a digital literacy plan.

Robots, a new horizon at MWC

These machines have become the main characters at the trade show held in the Catalan capital until Thursday.

The vast majority are robots serving drinks but there are a couple of other uses for these machines such as security and helping people in need.

The main star of the show, going by the number of people taking selfies with it, is Kime. The robot is on show at MWC and works with 5G connectivity. The difference between previous bandwidth connections and the new one is the possibility to develop droids such as this one, as robots will now be able to have more human interactions.