Google Cancels Google I/O 2020 Over Coronavirus Fears [Update]

Google is exploring other ways to connect with the developer community

Why It Matters

Google's decision to cancel its massive Mountain View, CA developers conference over Coronavirus concerns may make it impossible for other major tech companies (Microsoft, Apple) to hold their spring-time developer events.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai
Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks at Google I/O 2019. Getty Images

Update: March 20, 2020 - Google has now completely canceled the physical and any possible digital events around its annual I/0 developer conference for this year, according to an announcement on its website.

Original Post: Google will not hold its annual developers conference Google I/O in Mountain View, California on May 12. According to a statement delivered to Lifewire and posted on the Google I/O 2020 web site, the search giant made the decision "Due to concerns around the Coronavirus (COVID-19), and in accordance with health guidance from the CDC, WHO, and other health authorities."

What's Happening? Like a series of dominoes, one tech conference and event after another have fallen over the last few weeks, starting with Mobile World Congress and continuing with Facebook's F8, the Game Developers Conference, and Adobe's Summit. All have cancelled their in-person events, often attended by tens of thousands of people, in favor of smaller, local gatherings and video events.

An Early Decision: Google's decision is notable because Google I/O 2020, which was set to be held in the Shoreline Amphitheater in May, is more than two months away.

No event or plan is safe from the fast spreading and seemingly unpredictable virus.

Can't Companies Decide for Themselves? Google's decision was influenced by "health guidance from the CDC," which Microsoft and Apple, both planing huge developer conferences in May (Build) and June (WWDC), respectively, are surely hearing as well. Last year, Apple announced WWDC 2019 dates on March 14. It's fair to expect Apple to state its position before then end of March.

Some Shows Must Go On, Right? Even more near-term conferences like SXSW in Austin, Texas are feeling the Coronavirus impact as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have pulled out of the yearly interactive, film, and music event. While some have speculated that the event, which kicks off next week, might be cancelled as well, SXSW today announced additional speakers.

Supporting the Community. The loss of Google I/O 2020 is sure to have a negative economic impact on Mountain View. The company is reportedly pledging $1 million to support local STEM and computer science initiatives and help support local Coronavirus awareness and education.

Bottom Line: No event or plan is safe from the fast spreading and seemingly unpredictable virus. Whatever plans Google had for announcing the next version of Android are now in flux. In the meantime, Google will deliver a full refund to all Google I/O 2020 ticket holders as it explores "other ways to evolve Google I/O to best connect with our developer community."

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