Coronavirus: Apple Moves Developer Conference To Online Format

Apple has moved its World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) to an online-only format, as companies continue to implement new measures aimed at containing the coronavirus pandemic.

On Saturday the company also shuttered its Apple Stores outside of China until 27 March – a day after it reopened its Chinese stores, following a month-long pause.

“As rates of new infections continue to grow in other places, we’re taking additional steps to protect our team members and customers,” Apple chief executive Tim Cook said of the store closures.

The company added in a situation that the “current health situation has required that we create a new WWDC 2020 format”.

Guests arrive at Steve Jobs Theatre at Apple Park. Image credit: Apple

‘Full programme’

Apple typically uses WWDC, which attracts more than 5,000 people each year, to announce major new products and software features.

Apple’s marketing chief, Phil Schiller, said Apple was planning “a full programme with an online keynote and sessions” for the online event, which is planned for June.

The company said it would contribute about $1 million (£800,000) to local organisations in San Jose, California, where the event is usually held, to offset “revenue loss” as a result of the format change.

The gaming industry’s E3 flagship event was recently called off, with the Game Developers Conference, SXSW, and Google and Facebook’s developer events, while the Ted conference of talks was postponed.

Last week Santa Clara County, where San Jose is located, officially banned gatherings of 1,000 people or more for at least three weeks, while the state of California banned gatherings of 250 people or more until the end of March.

China stores reopen

Companies are adapting to the epidemic in various ways, with Xerox saying it plans to postpone meetings with shareholders of HP amidst a takeover battle.

Takeaway, a subsidiary of European food delivery giant Just Eat Takeaway, said that as of Friday it would begin dropping orders at the door as a precautionary measure, following similar steps taken by competitors in China and the US.

In China, where the epidemic began, there has been a steady decline in new infections, allowing companies to begin resuming operations after several weeks of disruption.

As a result, Apple on Friday reopened its 42 Chinese Apple Stores, after shutting them in mid-February due to the initial outbreak.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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