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Apple has held a Worldwide Developers Conference every single year since 1987. But this year, that event may not happen for one specific and significant reason.
Specifically, it’s the coronavirus outbreak. Amid growing concerns about COVID-19, many technology trade shows, developer events and announcement keynotes have been canceled. And when it comes to Apple, some of them are incredibly close to home.
COVID-19’s Impact on the Tech Industry
The wave of canceled tech events started with Mobile World Congress, one of the largest global smartphone events. Event coordinators eventually canceled MWC shortly after significant vendors pulled out of the show.
And just today, Facebook announced that it would be canceling its F8 developer conference. While the company said it was a tough decision, it ultimately decided to pull the event because “it didn’t feel right to have F8 without our international developers in attendance.”
Apple may be facing the same tough decision. Facebook’s F8 conference is similar in scale to WWDC, with 5,000 attendees last year, and is also held at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California. F8 was scheduled for May, just one month from when Apple typically holds WWDC.
Many major game companies have already started pulling out of the annual Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next month, including Microsoft, Sony, Unity, Kojima Productions and EA. (The event is still moving forward at this point.)
Those aren’t the only major events being canceled around the world. And, as you might expect, COVID-19 has also had a major impact on the supply chain across the tech industry. And for Apple, the effect on its supply chain has been particularly tough.
Will Apple Cancel WWDC?
It’s not clear whether Apple will cancel WWDC ’20 this year, but the Cupertino tech giant is undoubtedly weighing the situation. Given the current circumstances, the company may have more reasons to nix the event than hold it this year.
Since WWDC dates are typically announced in March, we may have to wait until later next month for Apple’s official cancelation notice.
It would only be the latest example of how COVID-19 is hitting Apple.
Last month, Apple said that its March quarter revenue would fall short of expectations due to store and factory closures in China, as well as other side effects of the outbreak. The company said it is closely monitoring the situation.
Of course, a canceled WWDC wouldn’t exactly derail Apple’s plans for the year. The company will still likely release new products and make major announcements via press release. It could even hold a “virtual” WWDC and an actual keynote, with just no public attendance.
But in any case, it’s looking likely that, given the current situation, Apple may play it safe and cancel WWDC this year.
At the very least, it may be the smarter decision. Earlier this week, the CDC warned that COVID-19 was likely to spread in the U.S. and that Americans should start preparing for a COVID-19 crisis now.