Apple will create an online-only format for its annual WWDC event this year due to concerns about coronavirus.
The Worldwide Developers Conference in California is typically a showcase for the Cupertino-based company’s new products and software, but the virus, which is now a global pandemic, has forced a change in format.
“The current health situation has required that we create a new WWDC 2020 format that delivers a full program with an online keynote and sessions,” Apple senior VP of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller said in a statement.
While the loss of the traditional event is a blow, Apple believes that the new digital format will enable it to better connect with its 23 million registered developer base.
The normal conference, limited to developers, is sold out every year, but tickets are very expensive at $1,600 each.
Schiller said that Apple will announce further details during the next few weeks.
While the switch to online-only is unprecedented, the keynote speech by CEO Tim Cook is normally streamed to millions of people around the world anyway.
WWDC usually takes place in early June, but Apple has not revealed an exact date for the new online event.
The company will also set aside a $1m fund to “offset associated revenue loss” for organisations in and around San Jose that usually benefit from the event taking place.
Prior to Apple’s announcement, there had been speculation that the event would be cancelled after E3, the gaming industry’s annual event, was called off late last week.
It follows public health advice that large gatherings could increase the spread of infection.
Apple also closed all of its stores outside of China over the weekend as it continues efforts to combat the outbreak and protect staff and customers.
The stores will not be open again until 27th March at the earliest.
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