Google cancels 2020 I/O conference amid coronavirus concerns

The latest casualty of the novel coronavirus: Google’s 2020 I/O developer conference, which had been scheduled to take place May 12- 14, has been canceled by the giant technology company amid fears that the COVID-19 virus could spread like wildfire throughout showgoers.

“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 said in a statement. “Over the coming weeks, we will explore other ways to evolve Google I/O to best connect with and continue to build our developer community. We’ll continue to update the Google I/O website.”

All guests who have purchased tickets to I/O 2020 will receive a full refund by March 13, 2020, the company said, noting that anyone who hasn’t seen the credit by then can reach out to io@google.com. Guests who have registered for I/O 2020 will not need to enter next year’s drawing and will be automatically granted the option of purchasing an I/O 2021 ticket.

Google said it was exploring other options for the show. One that leaps to mind is virtual reality: While it’s likely that there isn’t a big enough installed base for a virtual reality event to have the reach Google would like, such a developer event could be an opportunity to offer steep discounts to drive such adoption. And because the crowd at Google I/O is developers by design, it’s an opportunity to roll out new features to the people best suited to use them — and show them in real time the benefits of using them.

I/O is the latest event to be impacted by the Coronavirus, following Facebook’s cancellation of the F8 event, the cancellation of the Game Developer Conference, the Geneva Motor Show, and the first show to falter at the stumbling block: the cancellation of MWC, or Mobile World Congress, the massive mobile technology show traditionally held in Barcelona.

Meanwhile, the technology and entertainment worlds watch and hold their breath as the creators of the SXSW agonize over their show. SXSW is still being held, they insist, even as big names announce plans to limit employee travel or pull out of the show entirely. Will they or won’t they? Only time will tell.

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