Will the coronavirus outbreak cause Apple to cancel WWDC 2020?

Every year, Apple invites developers from all around the world to join together in California at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June. But, will the coronavirus outbreak cause Apple to cancel WWDC 2020?

Apple to cancel WWDC 2020? Image: People are checked for COVID-19 coronavirusAccording to the latest figures from Caixin, there have been 74,679 confirmed cases in China, with 16,168 recovered, 4,922 suspected cases, and 2,122 deaths due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

Jonny Evans for Apple Must:

The truth is that right now this minute across the planet the host of most big international events are looking at a problem which basically goes:

Option 1: Have the event and infect millions and around 2% of people die (says the WHO).
Option 2: Don’t have the event and people don’t die, but your PR is ruined.

I think this is actually a pretty easy decision…

So much depends on the extent to which this infection proliferates… But Apple has a few weeks (max) to decide how best to play this one.

MacDailyNews Take: Hopefully, the World Health Organization is overestimating and we’ll get a handle on COVID-19 sooner than later. We’d hate to see WWDC canceled or, if contagion transmission is still a concern in June, become just a webcast with only online courses. Apple is one of the few companies who could pull off a webcast-only event and still get an ample PR bang out of it since so many developers and users around the world are extremely interested in the future of macOS, iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS, audioOS, etc.


    1. I remember telling Steve Jobs about the attack security dogs. He threatened to set them on me but he was only joking – the bite that the dog playfully gave me only severed one of my gonads, not both. God I love Steve, he was such a jokester.

        1. It’s true, my pathetic stories about knowing everyone important from the late 1970s and early 1980s from the world of tech are boring and sad. I have to reach back 40 years for some relevance and I need to keep reminding everyone about it because I need to keep reminding everyone about it.

  1. Or idea #3, still have the WDDC, but make it online to view thru Apple TV, like that have always done, and stream online. There is not urgent need to have a live audience. It just gives the oossss and aaaahhhss… which will happen with the people watching… and the bloggers will still blog. Minimize the amount of people, minimize the risks, still release the message. I also think it’s pre-mature to determine if it should even need to be addressed yet. I say by mid-April will be a better timeframe to consider.

    1. You’ve understandably forgotten that WWDC is far more than just a keynote. It’s 5 days of group sessions and direct interaction between app developers, programmers, etc. with Apple’s developers, programmers and engineers for a back-and-forth that helps both sides produce better products. And allows the developer community an opportunity to ask questions about and understand the under-the-hood mechanics of the new OSs so they can program accordingly. Difficult if not impossible to do over a bunch of webexes. Apple’s ability to foresee and squash bugs prior to release is a direct result of this interaction (which is why there’s always months of lag between WWDC and release). A limited WWDC experience significantly risks blowing Apple’s release schedules not just of software but of the new hardware scheduled to run it, or at the very least will likely affect quality control to the point that might risk a failed, embarrassing launch (even worse than some we’ve seen). And that’s not even considering whether there will still be effects on the supply side. Covid has a pretty good chance of creating a serious global downturn that could take a few years to recover from (even if it doesn’t trigger recession).

    2. I agree. Much of the content can be delivered electronically, if not all. While there is nothing like meeting people face to face who do fascinating work for you to learn from, spreading the virus for WWDC is just silly.

      It’s about time new products were introduced online instead of having “events” anyway. Events should be reserved for black swans like the iPhone, not for adding RAM to the MacBook Pro.

      I’d rather have in depth videos on Apple’s direction and new products anyway.

      I don’t see this harming Apple’s PR in any way.

      1. WWDC isn’t a PR event. It is a developers’ conference. Without allowing developers to attend, all that’s left is the keynote…possibly the least important part of the event.

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