Today, Google canceled I/O, it’s annual developer conference and biggest event of the year. The company said it was calling off the gathering because of concerns over the novel coronavirus. The virus has caused worldwide disruption and affected physical tradeshows; San Franciso-based events have been particularly hard hit and the city is in a declared state of emergency .
This is one of the first events to cancel for as far ahead as May. Google said it’s canceling the physical portion of the event, which was set to take place on May 12-14 at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California, a short walk from the company’s global headquarters. Attendees will get a full refund, the company said in an email.
“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 spokesman said in a statement, referring to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. “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 I/O, which last year drew more than 7,000 attendees, is the company’s most important gathering each year and the platform for CEO Sundar Pichai’s annual keynote speech, where he talks about Google’s current efforts and priorities. Over the past few years, Google has made its biggest announcements at the show, including the introduction of the Google Assistant, the Google Home smart speaker and Google Glass eyewear.
The cancellation follows a series of scrubbed events across the tech industry. Facebook last week canceled F8, it’s biggest event of the year, because of coronavirus concerns. Instead, Facebook will hold smaller local and livestreamed events. The Game Developers Conference, the video game confab that’d been scheduled for later this month in San Francisco, has been postponed. Mobile World Congress, the massive mobile-phone conference annually held in Barcelona, was also canceled late last month.
Google has altered its plans with other events too. On Monday, the company said it’s making its annual C
loud Next conference, which drew 30,000 attendees last year, a digital-only event because of worries over the coronavirus. And last week Google said it’s canceling its Google News Initiative Summit, a smaller conference that would’ve gathered together hundreds of people across the media industry.