A technology congress in a major European city in mid-February 2020? With tens of thousands of attendees from all over the world sharing the atmosphere of the exhibition halls as if in the midst of a global health crisis? But … isn’t that Sony’s stand? And beyond that, didn’t I just go ahead of those of Intel and Cisco? Let’s see … why didn’t we just cancel the Mobile World Congress precisely because of the contagion of Covid-19 coronavirus and the removal of companies like the three mentioned, among others? Maybe I entered a parallel universe without realizing it?
Not at all. It happens that today I am not in Barcelona but in Amsterdam, and the congress is not our MWC but another of three letters: the ISE, which stands for Integrated Systems Europe, the world’s leading professional audiovisual technology show. Last year’s edition gathered 86,000 participants, which started on Tuesday and ends today on Friday, are on their way to exceeding the number, and thus play in the same league as the MWC. All of these congressmen typically behave despite global health alerting, and merely comply with the same hygiene recommendations as the GSMA intended for Mobile. People do not greet each other by the shaking of hands and everywhere there are bottles of disinfectant gel, but outside of that, at ISE, everyone does their thing in a normal way.
What has gained the most attention among Catalan attendees – the day after the GSMA dropped the MWC – is that among the 1,300 ISE exhibitors there are companies, such as Sony, Cisco and Intel, who have retired. of the congress of Barcelona and have ended up causing the cancellation. That is why there are those who ask how it is possible that the same company does not dare to go to Barcelona and instead has no problem to come to Amsterdam. There are even those who see a black hand there.
The explanation is much simpler and it has to do with dates. The ISE is being held almost two weeks before the expected start of the MWC, and given the fact that many stand assemblies take weeks, it is seen that a lot of staff from China were already in Amsterdam before it started the coronavirus crisis.
The GSMA, dismayed, blames a “force majeure” for attempting to mitigate compensation
There were also cancellations
On the other hand, the same company often has separate divisions for audiovisual and mobile, which may have different criteria for deciding whether or not to attend. At any rate, Mike Blackman, the director of the ISE (John Hoffman’s audiovisual counterpart to the GSMA, let’s face it) tells the ARA that they have dropped: 50 of the 250 Chinese exhibitors enrolled have retired because his staff were not allowed to leave China or because their flights were canceled. Others have attended the booth with European employees. There have even been 22 casualties from non-Chinese companies. In total, they represent 4% of the initially planned exhibitors.
The irony is that the ISE is leaving Amsterdam because they no longer fit. From next year we will have them at the Fira de Barcelona, shortly before the Mobile World Congress, occupying the space and the dates that Cisco Live has left free to install from 2021 precisely .. in Amsterdam!