- Facebook announced the cancellation of its yearly Global Marketing Summit scheduled for next month due to public health risks related to the coronavirus, which is now called Covid-19, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The social network planned to host more than 5,000 attendees at the Moscone Center in San Francisco from March 9-12.
- Facebook's announcement follows last week's cancellation of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, the mobile industry's biggest yearly conference with more than 100,000 attendees. The GSM Association, which had hosted the event since 2006, announced the cancellation as AT&T, Cisco and Facebook, among others, withdrew their plans to attend, Reuters reported.
- Facebook's cancellation of its marketing summit so far hasn't affected plans to host its F8 developers conference that's scheduled for May 5-6. The social network typically makes its biggest announcements about new products and services at the event.
Facebook's axing its marketing summit will likely have a minimal effect on mobile marketers that rely on the social network for their social media campaigns. The company still has plenty of ways to communicate with marketers through digital channels and its salesforce. But the news, coupled with the shutdown of this year's MWC in Barcelona, does send potentially worrying signals for more significant events later in the year.
More consequential for Facebok would be a cancellation of its F8 conference that serves as a showcase for new products and services among its family of apps, including its main social network, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. The continued closure of major mobile industry conferences, where brands, platforms and vendors go to network, hear from thought leadership and make major announcements, could stymie momentum in the space.
Shutting down MWC, for example, set off a scramble for companies to find other ways to showcase their wares to cellular companies, electronics retailers and the press. The repercussions of the cancellation will be felt throughout the year, even though it probably won't have a long-term effect on the way marketers use mobile platforms.
"The cancellation of MWC Barcelona puts the mobile industry into uncharted waters," Frank Gillett, VP and principal analyst at Forrester, said via emailed comments to Mobile Marketer. "There's no way to make up for all the social, in-person conversations that are oxygen for the competitive mobile industry. I expect to see a burst of social media and online events to fill the gap."
The GSM Association has pledged to return next year with the annual event, the BBC reported.
Covid-19 is disrupting supply chains for makers of smartphones including Apple. The iPhone maker said it won't meet its sales goals for the current quarter because of the outbreak that limited production and dampened demand in China. Apple closed its retail stores in the country, limiting the ability to make new sales of its products. It also faced delays in the resumption of factory output after the Lunar New Year holiday, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Until health officials get a better grasp on Covid-19, which has killed more than 1,300 people and infected about 64,000 in mainland China, many event organizers may see companies withdraw participation from industry events like MWC. Concerns about the virus last week led IBM to back out of the RSA Conference that's scheduled for Feb. 24-28 in San Francisco, CRN reported.