Uncertainty looms over WWDC 2020 as Santa Clara bans mass gatherings
WWDC is one of the biggest events on Apple’s calendar, gathering thousands of developers in San Jose, California, every June. The company announces the exact dates of the event in late April but with the ban in place, we might have to wait a bit longer. It’s worth noting, that in the worst-case scenario of the event being canceled, the expected announcements of iOS 14, iPadOS 14, macOS 10.16, watchOS 7 and tvOS 14 will probably happen in one form or another.
The COVID-19 outbreak has already lead to the cancelation of many international events and forced companies to opt for online product announcements in order to avoid the spread of the disease and protect their employees. The 2020 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona was among the first victims: after major companies withdrew from the event, the GSMA canceled the conference altogether. Facebook, Microsoft, and Google have scrubbed the live parts of their conferences as well, choosing to live-stream the important stuff instead.
In the past few years, Apple has transformed the WWDC event from one happening almost behind closed doors to a full-blown live conference with one-on-one sessions between developers and engineers, with key announcements streamed live on the internet. The Santa Clara ban explicitly forbids any gathering of 1000 or more people, which limits Apple’s options concerning the WWDC organization. The company remains silent on the matter, and it’s still not clear if the event will take place at all.
Apple has some space left for maneuvering and can use Apple Park’s studios to live stream the session part of the event, while the keynote might still be held live at the Steve Jobs Theater if the proper health checks are in place for all the attendees. The Lab sessions will be a hard gig to replicate, with online Q&A sessions maybe the next best thing. Apple is already suffering financial losses from the coronavirus outbreak after 42 retail stores in China closed doors, contributing to a serious plunge in iPhone sales in the country.