In what simply feels like the latest public-facing event to hit the chopping block, Google’s largest and most important conference has officially been cancelled due to rising issues from the COVID-19 coronavirus. In the event you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know, COVID-19 is spreading now in the US, especially on the west coast, and public conferences and tech shows are being canned right and left in an effort to help curb the spread of the virus.
Following the recent cancellation and reorganization of their Cloud Next conference into a ‘digital first’ event, Google I/O is following in the footsteps of other massive tech shows and conferences like MWC, Facebook’s F8 developer conference, and the GDC (game developer conference) in outright cancelling the events. Verge reports the following in a statement from a Google spokeperson:
Due to concerns around the coronavirus (COVID-19), and in accordance with health guidance from the CDC, WHO, and other health authorities, we have decided to cancel the physical Google I/O event at Shoreline Amphitheatre.
Google I/O is generally the place where new Android, Assistant, Chrome and Chrome OS features get shown off to the public. It is the place where developers go to see the latest direction Google is headed with these products and to learn first-hand how to best take advantage of new abilities and changing standards. This event being cancelled isn’t just a bummer for viewers and tech enthusiasts: its a hit on the entire industry.
But there is a silver lining as Google has stated it is working on “other ways to evolve Google I/O to best connect with and continue to build our developer community.” If the way they are planning to handle the Cloud Next event is any indicator, I’d expect us to see something more produced for the two standard keynotes and a very similar setup to all the breakout sessions that we’ve seen before. After all, nearly every part of I/O is streamed on YouTube each year, so the infrastructure for delivering the content is already in place.
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Sure, it will be a bit odd for the keynote presentations not to be in front of a live audience, but with the time they have before the event (it isn’t until May 12th), I would think a company as well-outfitted as Google could put together a well-thought-out, highly-produced keynote or two for a conference of this importance. There are surely secondary goings-on at I/O each year that most people never see that will unfortunately not happen this year, but Google is in a good place to still get the core info about their products out to the world in an efficient manner.
Additionally, Google has said those who purchased tickets already will be getting a full refund by March 13th and will also be automatically granted the ability to purchase a ticket for I/O 2021.
SOURCE: The Verge