Google cancels its biggest annual developers' gathering Google I/O 2020 over coronavirus concerns

The search giant has shelved the physical event which was originally scheduled to be held between May 12 and 14 in Mountain View, California

The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has been the primary reason behind the cancellation and postponement of several major tech events throughout the world including the Mobile World Congress 2020 (MWC), the Game Developers Conference among others. Now, the latest event to join the list is Google's annual developers' conference, Google I/O.

Google I/O 2020 physical event shelved

The Mountain View, California based tech giant released a statement confirming that it has canceled the physical part of the Google l/O Conference over coronavirus concerns. The event was originally scheduled to take place from May 12 to May 14, at a short distance from the 'Googleplex.'

"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," a Google spokesperson said in the statement.

Google exploring other options

Meanwhile, Google added that it will be exploring other ways for its developer community to connect and collaborate. "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."

Google's biggest annual tech event

The annual Google I/0 conference is one of biggest yearly events, gathering thousands of developers from around the world and serves as a platform for Google engineers to interact with other developers.

The cancellation is undoubtedly a blow for the search giant which also uses the I/O to introduce its latest major Android release every year (Android 11 in this year's case), along with other software and machine learning breakthroughs. Google also uses the platform to launch new hardware with last year's I/O seeing Google launch the Pixel 3a and 3a XL, and the successors Pixel 4a and 4a XL were rumored to be introduced at this year's event.

Google I/O 2019 is slated to kick on May 7 and conclude on May 9.Sundar Pichai, Google CEO/Twitter (screen-grab)
Google I/O Sundar Pichai, Google CEO/Twitter screen-grab

Tickets will be refunded

Google said in an email that attendees who bought tickets for the shelved physical event will be refunded in full by March 13. Google also said that those who purchased the tickets for this year's event will be automatically granted the option of buying a Googke I/O 2021 ticket.

"All guests who have purchased tickets to I/O 2020 will receive a full refund by March 13, 2020. If you don't see the credit on your statement by then, please reach out to io(at) 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," reads the statement.

Google Cloud Next 2020

The Google I/O cancellation news comes just days after Google scrapped the physical version of its Cloud Next event which was scheduled to be held between April 6 and 8 in San Francisco. The event will now be held inline under the moniker "Google Cloud Next '20: Digital Connect."

And although Google is yet to confirm whether it will hold the event virtually like it will be doing with the Cloud Next event, there is a possibility that the I/O will be live streamed which means there may not be an audience and this will significantly reduce the buzz and excitement surround the event. The shelving of the physical event is also a missed opportunity for Android developers to meet with Google engineers and discuss in person, but workshops and keynote could still be live streamed.

Given the severity and concerns around the contagion, the shelving of the physical events seems like a wise decsion. The COVID-19 virus has so far resulted in over 91,000 people being infected and the death toll is over 3,000.