Due to concerns over the spread of the 2019-nCoV strain of coronavirus, Amazon (AMZN -1.61%) is withdrawing from the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2020 conference, as reported by Reuters and several of Spain's major newspapers on Sunday. Held annually in Barcelona, MWC is the world's largest conference devoted to mobile devices and technology, and is scheduled to take place this year between Feb. 24 and Feb. 27.
Amazon's exit is certain to darken the pall hanging over the event, which typically showcases new phones by leading manufacturers, and serves as a much-anticipated venue for industry networking. Phone giants Ericsson and LG have also pulled out from the conference in recent days, and on Monday, Sony added its name to the list of tech powerhouses that will skip the 2020 edition.
A missed opportunity; a necessary decision
The Barcelona conference is more important to Amazon than it may seem. As 5th generation (5G) mobile networks expand and major manufacturers roll out 5G-compliant phones, improved connectivity will enable devices to take advantage of the compute capabilities of major cloud datacenter providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS).
In other words, as the 5G market evolves, phones will increasingly tap into powerful cloud computing provided by AWS and its rivals to run sophisticated tasks like high-resolution streaming and gaming which are normally limited to laptops and desktop computers.
Foregoing exhibitions to showcase AWS's power and flexibility at MWC is a lost opportunity for Amazon, but the safety of its employees is paramount. On the other hand, the company may not miss out on much. Though conference organizers are forging ahead, mounting coronavirus fears may reduce MWC 2020 attendance to a fraction of its normal count.