As COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel Coronavirus, spreads internationally, it has caused tech companies and event organizers to reconsider whether it’s safe to hold large conferences and tradeshows.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that you avoid being close to people who are sick, wash your hands frequently, stay home when you are ill and disinfect surfaces you touch. However, when you put a lot of people in the same place, transmission can happen.
Much of the world still hasn’t seen cases or outbreaks, but some conferences have already been canceled out of an abundance of caution. Mobile World Congress in Barcelona was canceled after a number of vendors, including Ericsson, ZTE, LG, MediaTek, Facebook, Nvidia and more either pulled out of the show, scaled back operations or chose not to send employees. Facebook has also canceled its F8 developer conference.
Now others are deciding whether or not to hold their events. Companies like Sony, Microsoft, Epic and Unity have pulled out of the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, but that show is still scheduled to go on from March 16 through March 20.
Here’s a list of upcoming tech events and what we know about them.
- Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain (February 24-27)
- SXSW in Austin, Texas (March 13 - March 22)
Officials in Austin, Texas declared a disaster in the city and issued an order to cancel SXSW.
- Facebook F8 in San Jose, California (May 5-6)
- Google I/O in San Jose, California (May 12-14)
Google’s developer conference is not occurring in the Shoreline Amphitheater. "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 told news outlets. Ultimately, Google decided to nix the whole thing.
- E3 in Los Angeles, California (June 9-11)
E3 2020 has been canceled. In a statement, the Entertainment Software Association wrote that "[a]fter careful consultation with our member companies regarding the health and safety of everyone in our industry – our fans, our employees, our exhibitors and our longtime E3 partners – we have made the difficult decision to cancel E3 2020, scheduled for June 9-11 in Los Angeles."
- Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, California (Postponed) Originally scheduled to run from March 16 to 20, GDC has been delayed until "later in the summer." New dates in August have been announced form August 4-6.
- Computex in Taipei, Taiwan (Postponed)
The biggest tech show in Asia has been pushed back to September 28-30 from its original dates in June. The show's organizer, Taitra, wrote that the delay is for "health and safety of exhibitors and visitors, the effectiveness of the exhibition, and maintaining the COMPUTEX brand image."
Moved to Online Only
- Microsoft MVP Global Summit (March 16-19)
- Adobe Summit (March 29 - April 20)
- Nvidia GPU Technology Conference (GTC) (March 22-26)
Nvidia has moved GTC to be an online-only event because of "growing concern over the coronavirus." CEO Jensen Huang will give a keynote over livestream. Registrants will receive a full refund.
- Google Cloud Next (April 6-8)
- Microsoft Build (May 19-21)
Microsoft will host its developer event online, instead of in Seattle. "The safety of our community is a top priority. In light of the health safety recommendations for Washington State, we will deliver our annual Microsoft Build event for developers as a digital event, in lieu of an in-person event," Microsoft told news outlets. "We look forward to bringing together our ecosystem of developers in this new virtual format to learn, connect and code together. Stay tuned for more details to come."
- Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) (June 22)
Apple's WWDC website says that this year's event will be "a completely new online experience" with keynotes and presentations.
- Gamescom (August 25-29)
The gaming show originally meant to be in Cologne, Germany will go digital-only.
- IFA (September 3-5)
IFA has announced a shorter, three day show that won't be open to the public. The invite-only show will be comprised of four smaller events, each limited to 1,000 people per day.
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Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Twitter: @FreedmanAE
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