Apple has joined the ranks of technology companies forced to shut down or modify upcoming conferences as a result of the coronavirus. Last week, the company announced that it’s changing the venue for its 2020 Worldwide Developers Conference from the usual in-person event to an online-only format.
“We are delivering WWDC 2020 this June in an innovative way to millions of developers around the world, bringing the entire developer community together with a new experience,” Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, said in a press release shared on Apple’s website. “The current health situation has required that we create a new WWDC 2020 format that delivers a full program with an online keynote and sessions, offering a great learning experience for our entire developer community, all around the world. We will be sharing all of the details in the weeks ahead.”
Apple’s annual WWDC gives developers an opportunity to learn about the company’s tools and technologies through sessions, hands-on labs, get-togethers, and speaker presentations. But WWDC is also a way for Apple to share details with the press and public on the upcoming versions of its different operating systems. In this year’s conference, Apple is expected to shine a light on the new flavors of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS.
An online format won’t be new to WWDC as Apple typically offers a livestream on the first day of the conference when it discusses and demonstrates the new editions of its operating systems. But in past years, the conference has relied on an in-person venue for discussions, networking, and hands-on lab sessions. Now, Apple will have to offer alternative options to give developers hands-on experience with its new products.
“With all of the new products and technologies we’ve been working on, WWDC 2020 is going to be big,” Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, said in the press release. “I look forward to our developers getting their hands on the new code and interacting in entirely new ways with the Apple engineers building the technologies and frameworks that will shape the future across all Apple platforms.”
Scheduled for sometime this coming June, the conference was expected to take place in San Jose, CA, where Apple has held the last few WWDC events. To make up for lost revenue as a result of the new online-only format, Apple said it will commit $1 million to local San Jose organizations.
Apple closes all retail stores outside of China
Beyond revamping WWDC, Apple has made other moves in response to the coronavirus. The company said that it will shut down all its retail stores outside of Greater China until further notice.
Apple was also expected to hold an event in March in which it would unveil an iPhone 9, aka SE2, and possibly other products. But the company decided to postpone that event due to the coronavirus and delays in the production of the new phone, a source at Apple told Cult of Mac.
On a more positive front, Apple has reopened all its retail stores in China after closing them down last month. Unlike in other regions where the coronavirus has been spreading, China has seen a dramatic decline in the number of cases since hitting a peak of more than 15,000 in mid-February, according to data from the World Health Organization.
Tech conferences cancelling around the world
In light of the coronavirus, more and more tech companies and organizations have been canceling, postponing, or modifying their upcoming conferences. On Thursday, Microsoft switched the format for this year’s Build developers conference to an online-only venue. The company had already canceled its annual Most Valuable Professional Summit, which will also shift to an online event.
Previously, GSMA canceled its Mobile World Congress in Barcelona after companies began dropping out. Similarly, the Entertainment Software Association canceled its E3 video game event schedule for June 9-11 in Los Angeles.
Facebook pulled the plug on its annual Global Marketing Summit set for San Francisco this past week and its F8 developer conference scheduled for May 6-8 in San Jose, CA. Google canceled its I/O conference set for May 12-14 in Mountain View, CA, and moved its Cloud Next conference to an online venue. Other companies that have canceled, postponed, or changed in-person events include Adobe, Cisco, Dell, Gartner, Kaspersky, Oracle, and SAP.
This story was updated on March 17, 2020.