Google cancels I/O developer conference amid coronavirus concerns

Google (and now also Alphabet) CEO Sundar Pichai speaking at the last year's Google I/O conference, May 7, 2019.
Enlarge / Google (and now also Alphabet) CEO Sundar Pichai speaking at the last year’s Google I/O conference, May 7, 2019.

Silicon Valley’s spring series of tech shows continues to dwindle in the face of communicable disease: Google’s I/O developer conference for 2020 has now been canceled as the company cites coronavirus concerns.

“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,” the company said. In lieu of bringing a whole bunch of breathing, potentially coughing people together in one place, “we will explore other ways to evolve Google I/O to best connect with our developer community,” likely with a heavy focus on online delivery.

Anyone who purchased a pass to the 2020 I/O will receive a full refund by March 13, Google’s website says, and all registered attendees for the 2020 show will automatically be “extended an invitation” for the 2021 edition.

Google is the latest, but likely not the last, Silicon Valley firm to abandon live, in-person conference plans for this spring. Facebook last week canceled its F8 developer conference, scheduled to begin May 5. The next day, the Game Developers Conference, which was to have begun May 16, canceled.

Countless other industries and sectors are following suit. The auto industry, for example, scrapped this year’s Geneva Auto Show. Neither is academia immune—one of the world’s largest physics conferences, the March meeting of the American Physical Society, was supposed to begin this week and was instead canceled at the very last minute for the same reason.

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