Nokia and others join the MWC 2021 exodus

The sense of déjà vu is growing as, once more, Ericsson’s decision to pull out of Mobile World Congress seems to have encouraged others to do the same.

Nokia has become the second big name telecoms vendor to decide discretion is the better part of valour when it comes to mingling with the trade. “After careful consideration, Nokia has decided not to have a physical presence at Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2021,” said the company in a statement.

“The health of our employees, customers and partners is of paramount importance to us. Given the international nature of the event and with the global vaccine roll out still in its early phases, we have made the considered decision to instead participate in only the virtual event. We understand that GSMA is planning a range of online activities and we look forward to working with them to understand how we can participate.”

Last year Nokia took five days longer than Ericsson to make a decision but this time it needed just one. The reasons are essentially the same – that they think there’s still too much risk to their employees. There are plenty of reasons to hope the pandemic will largely be over by this summer but try telling lawyers and insurance companies that.

In addition Sony Mobile, such as it still is, told CNET it doesn’t fancy risking it either. And Oracle slipped its own decision not to bother out to TelecomTV. MWC 2020 was officially cancelled on the same day that Nokia pulled out, but we’ve heard nothing from the GSMA yet.

Sadly this feels a lot like last year. Whatever risk calculations the above companies have made will presumably be replicated elsewhere and these things have a tendency to snowball. We hope for the sake of the whole industry that enough exhibitors stick around to make a viable event, but the odds on that are lengthening by the day.


  1. Avatar Guillaume 10/03/2021 @ 7:17 pm

    It won’t be over by summer…
    For the pandemic to be over we need something like 70%+ of the world population to be vaccinated. It’s not going to happen before at least next year ( at the rate things are going some countries will get their population safe before summer, but other countries have barely started getting vaccines )

    Just remember, the only sickness officially killed is smallpox and it took years of worldwide vaccination effort to get rid of it.

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 11/03/2021 @ 9:14 am

      Quite – it won’t ever be over – so why don’t we start living our lives again now that we’ve endured the worst of it?

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