As the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) is spreading its wings beyond China, the biggest sector that has been most impacted by the epidemic is the tech industry. The epidemic has shaken up the tech industry so much that it has affected global supply chains and consumer demand. Many major tech events are either cancelled or postponed because of Coronavirus, hurting the local economy concerned.
A panic mode-like situation is in front of show organisers, who are compelled to convert tech events into virtual conferences. This has also affected airlines, hotels, travel agents, sponsors, exhibitors, and the entire chain that is usually dependent on big, massive tech events like Mobile World Congress, Game Developers’ Conference and Google I/O. As of Wednesday, there are over 90,000 Coronavirus cases and 3203 deaths confirmed worldwide.
Here is a list of all tech events that are cancelled, postponed, or going virtual.
Mobile World Congress [ STATUS: CANCELLED]
The first tech event that got cancelled due to the Coronavirus epidemic was the world’s largest mobile fair, Mobile World Conference (MWC), which takes place in Barcelona in the month of February. The cancellation of MWC 2020 has not only been a big blow for the economy of Barcelona also heavily impacted smartphone vendors, telecom gear makers, and network operators.
Major smartphone vendors including Vivo, Xiaomi, Oppo, Realme, Sony, and HMD Global (Nokia), among others, were supposed to show their upcoming lineup of devices. As high-profile exhibitors started pulling out of the show on the growing fears of Coronavirus, event organiser GSMA had no choice but to cancel the event. More than 100,000 delegates attend MWC, about 6000 of whom travel from China every year.
Google I/0 [STATUS: CANCELLED]
Google is cancelling its flagship annual developer conference, Google I/O, due to Coronavirus. The I/O is Google’s flagship conference, which typically attracts over 5000 developers. It’s an important conference on many levels, because it is the only platform where Google showcases its next version of the Android mobile operating system as well as new features coming to YouTube, Google Assistant and Google Photos.
Google also used the annual developer conference to launch a new smartphone like it did last year with the unveiling of the Pixel 3a. This year, Google was supposed to launch the Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a XL at I/O 2020. Google I/O was due to take place between May 12 and May 14.
Microsoft MVP summit [STATUS: VIRTUAL-ONLY]
Microsoft is cancelling its in-person MVP summit due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Instead, Microsoft decided to run the event as an online-only conference. The event is still scheduled to take place between March 16 and 20 in Seattle. The annual MVP is a multi-day event that includes technical and feedback sessions for Microsoft MVPs. Microsoft also holds its annual Build developer conference in the month of May. There is no information on whether this conference will also be cancelled or the event will run as a virtual-only conference.
Google Cloud Next conference [STATUS: VIRTUAL-ONLY]
Google has cancelled its biggest annual conference, Google Cloud Next, thanks to growing Coronavirus concerns in the US. The Cloud conference drew in 30000 attendees last year. This year’s Google Cloud Next was supposed to be held in San Francisco between April 6 and 8. While the in-person event is no longer happening, Google is still holding the conference as a “digital-first” event. The company says it plans to refund attendees both the cost of tickets for the event and hotel stays, and all the registered attendees will be given a digital version of the event instead.
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Facebook F8 [STATUS: CANCELLED]
Facebook said on Thursday that it had cancelled its F8 annual developer conference. Facebook F8 was supposed to take place in San Jose from May 5-6 this year. The annual software developer conference drew in 5,000 attendees last year. The social networking giant uses its Facebook F8 conference to show new features coming to the platform.
Game Developers Conference [STATUS: POSTPONED TO SUMMER 2020]
This year’s Game Developers Conference has been postponed amid Coronavirus fears. This is the first time in 30 years, the annual Game Developers Conference in San Francisco has been postponed until this summer. The new date has not been announced yet. Last year, the annual Game Developers Conference drew over 30,000 game developers and publishers. GDC’s postponement comes days after several high-profile exhibitions including Facebook, Google, Sony PlayStation, Microsoft Xbox, Electronic Arts and Epic Games (known for “Fortnite”) had decided to pull out of the conference due to employees health concerns from the Covid-19. Last year, Google announced its hyped Stadia cloud-based video game streaming service at GDC 2019.
Apple Spring event, WWDC 2020 [STATUS: UNKNOWN]
The growing spread of Coronavirus has mounted pressure on Apple to either cancel or postpone its Spring hardware event as well as the annual developer conference, WWDC 2020. These two events are critical for Apple because the company is expected to launch the “budget” iPhone 9 at a spring event in March and iOS 14 at WWDC 2020. Till date, Apple has not announced an update on whether these events are taking place as per schedule. Even if Apple plans to launch the iPhone 9 at a March special event, supplies and production may be constrained due to Coronavirus.
This is keeping in mind safety of fans, media friends, employees & partners. I urge you all to stay safe. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/SOdDZtSkmo
— Manu Kumar Jain (@manukumarjain) March 3, 2020
Xiaomi, Realme turn upcoming launches into virtual ones
Two of the biggest smartphone brands in India, Xiaomi and Realme, are no longer holding their upcoming launches as in-person events. Instead, both brands have decided to launch the Redmi Note 9 and Realme 6 series as virtual-only launch events. Both brands are not in a position to cancel the launch events entirely because the two devices are critical to Redmi (Xiaomi) and Realme from the commercial point of view. If the new phones get delayed, both brands will be impacted badly. So it is good to see that both Redmi and Realme are launching new devices through virtual events – at least they are reaching out to consumers anyway.
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