Coronavirus, aka COVID-19, has been spreading like wildfire across the globe. In fact, it seems that the only continent that has no cases of coronavirus is Antarctica, so it's definitely something that we should all be concerned about, but perhaps not to the point where this is like the apocalypse.
Still, a lot of businesses and big-name companies are taking the threat very seriously in concern for the safety and health of employees. Recently, Facebook has canceled its annual F8 conference due to growing concerns over the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. F8 is not unlike Apple's WWDC, in which developers from around the world gather to hear what the company is planning for the upcoming year.
Could Facebook canceling F8 due to COVID-19 be a sign of things to come for Apple?
What is Facebook F8 and what does it have to do with Apple?
Facebook F8 is a conference that is intended for developers and entrepreneurs who build products and services revolving around Facebook. It usually features a keynote speech from Mark Zuckerberg and then breaks down into sessions that focus on specific topics. The name "F8" comes from the company's tradition of 8-hour hackathons. It's a developer conference dedicated specifically to Facebook's features and services.
The reason Facebook canceling its own event is relevant is because this is a single company that was bringing in people from all around the world into one place for everyone to congregate together over the latest Facebook developments.
Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) is facing the same issue. Think about it — Apple events bring in tech journalists, bloggers, YouTubers, and people from all over the world, together in one place. Apple, like Facebook, is a single big-name company that is a household name. With Facebook canceling its event, there is the possibility that Apple could do the same.
I should note that Facebook has only canceled the "in-person" part of F8, so there may still be streamed video presentations, as well as live-streamed local events. It's just the in-person component of the conference that has been canceled due to health and safety concerns.
Could Apple do something similar for WWDC? Currently, with an Apple Developer account, you can stream sessions from WWDC, giving you access to much (but not all) of the content that you'd get from attending in person, so yes, it's doable, but one of the most invaluable aspects of WWDC is the networking and collaborative culture that is stoked during that 5-day period in San Jose, CA. A virtual conference would absolutely not be the same as meeting in-person at WWDC.
Google and Microsoft also have developer conferences in May. So far, neither of those companies has announced plans to cancel or make changes to conference schedules, so we can hold out hope that Apple is carefully weighing its options before deciding one way or another.
COVID-19 is affecting everything
Facebook's F8 conference is not the only show or event that has been canceled because of COVID-19. Back in February, the entire Mobile World Congress 2020 trade show was canceled, which followed after many big-name companies like Amazon, LG, NVIDIA, Sony, Vivo, and more pulled out of MWC 2020 over Coronavirus.
The Game Developers Conference (GDC) just recently officially canceled its yearly conference after losing some big-name companies including the following: Sony, Facebook and Oculus Gaming, Kojima Productions, Unity, EA, Microsoft, Epic Games and Unreal Engine, Amazon, Activision Blizzard, and Gearbox. With so many huge companies no longer attending GDC, we're wondering why the show is even continuing, and it may only be a matter of time — it's not really worth going to anymore, is it?
These gaming and tech conferences are bringing people from all over the globe, and the risk of COVID-19 exposure is high in some areas. The CDC notes that China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea are imposing level 3 warnings about traveling, which means " The CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to these countries." Honestly, canceling or postponing such big events is the right call right now.
What about Apple's March event?
As of right now, we still do not have any news on whether or not Apple will be holding its usual March event in the coming weeks. The rumors right now point to a possible iPhone 9 launch, new iPads, and maybe even Apple Tags, but no word on if there's an event. Apple could just silently announce an iPad refresh through press releases (they've released updated products this way previously), or maybe they can do a video presentation with new product launches and announcements instead this year, then schedule calls with specific members of media to virtually demo their features before sending out review units.
This is all speculation, but with so many other companies pulling out of trade shows or cancelling entire conferences altogether, there is a lot of uncertainty in the air.
I am hoping that there is still going to be a March event for Apple, but at this point, I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't.