Apple’s Mobile World Congress presence explained

Apple is attending MWC 2017... to have some meetings. But it would rather you didn't know that.

Yesterday we were first to report on the fact that the GSMA’s MWC site had listed Apple within its exhibitor listings.

We pointed out 1. That Apple’s presence was in fact limited to three meeting rooms and 2. That those meeting rooms are labelled on the show floor plan as “GSMA”.

However we did note the sig2up-15-17nificance of the GSMA naming, for what we think is the first time, the company within its exhibitor listings.

apple-mwcLater in the day the exhibitor entry for Apple was removed from the MWC site. Around the the same time, an Apple PR staffer also sent Ian Hood, CEO of Babel PR and the first person to bring Apple’s MWC listing to TMN’s attention, an email that stated, “We do not have an official presence at the show.”

So what’s going on? Well it seems that the important word there is official, because Apple has indeed booked meeting rooms at the event, as confirmed to us by the GSMA.

The GSMA told us: “We can confirm that Apple will have meeting space at Mobile World Congress, as they have had previously. “

So here’s the likely position. Apple fancies holding a few meetings at the event, needs somewhere to do so but doesn’t want people knowing it is around. They fear they would get deluged. So the GSMA agrees to badge up the rooms as GSMA, giving the Cupertino company the ability to move under cover. The listing in the exhibitor catalogue was true but also a mistake, in that it made Apple’s presence public.

It seems that this is an arrangement that has gone on for a while – given the “as they have had previously” statement from the GSMA. One wonders if there are any other companies that are granted the GSMA’s cover to attend the event incognito?  Presumably Apple will now be given new rooms, perhaps even under another name.

Anyway if you needed confirmation as to why Apple might want to keep its presence secret – do a search on some of the articles following up the story, nearly all of which neglect to mention Apple is only booking meeting rooms – preferring to hold out the prospect that Apple is in some way exhibiting at scale. Indeed many of them speculate more or less wildly as to what Apple could be planning for MWC. Dealing with that level of crazy all the time must be very wearing for Apple.

On the other hand – it would have been much easier to confirm the truth, as the GSMA has done, and say, “Yes we’re sending a few folks but we’re only hanging out in a couple of meeting rooms, NBD.” Instead Apple has so far ignored my requests for comment, and provided only a partial statement to Babel’s Hood.  As we know, truth hates a vacuum, or something like that anyway. 

Anyway, that’s far too many words already about a company holding some meetings at a trade show. Onwards…

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