Google I/O 2020 Completely Wiped Out By Covid-19
Written by Sue Gee   
Monday, 23 March 2020

As self-isolation, social distancing and lockdown restrictions increase to slow the spread of coronavirus, Google has announced that it has cancelled this year's developer conference in its entirety and is not going ahead with an online-only event.

When we initially reported the Google I/O, due to take place in Mountain View in May had been cancelled, see Coronavirus Wipes Out Dev Events, we assumed that this would be limited to the in-person event and that there would still be a virtual event that could be viewed from their desks, or on hand-held devices, by Googlers and other developers everywhere.

Now Google has taken the decision not to go ahead and it is clear from the tweet that was sent out that it is the "shelter in place" restrictions that have made this cancellation necessary:

googleiocan

You might have thought that if any organization could produce a virtual event it would be Google. However, imagine it again under lockdown restrictions in which either only one person is allowed on the stage or if there are more of them they have to keep at least two metres apart and cannot exchange physical objects. Although some I/O events such as breakout sessions devoted to software development, do lend themselves to a presentation that is accessible to individual developers watching on their individual screen, that isn't what anyone would consider the I/O experience. Even the remote events in Google offices around the world rely on being in a large group that has the feel of being in a live audience. Moreover to achieve the on-stage excitement that you want when launching new products and services and important breaking news even the best of speakers needs an audience and audience reaction.

Facebook, Microsoft and Apple have all proposed virtual events for F8, Build and WWDC. But as lockdown tightens we can no longer be certain that these plans will materialize.

As developers we are better placed than most for self-isolation and social distancing and it's relatively easy for us to continue with our day-to-day work without leaving home or interacting in-person. What is suffering is having fun, which seems to be off the agenda for quite a while to come.

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Last Updated ( Monday, 23 March 2020 )