Facebook cancels annual developer conference amid coronavirus concerns

Guardian staff and agency
Photograph: Tony Avelar/Associated Press

Facebook is canceling F8, its annual conference for developers, because of the new coronavirus.

The conference was scheduled to take place in early May in the San Francisco Bay area. Last year’s event was attended by more than 5,000 people from around the world.

Facebook says it is planning other ways for its developer community to get together, including live streams, locally hosted events and videos.

Related: 'Please visit Chinatown': coronavirus fears empty San Francisco district

The conference is the latest in the Bay Area to be affected by the outbreak, after a number of participants pulled out of the RSA security conference being held there this week, including IBM, AT&T and Verizon.

Meanwhile, the annual Game Developers Conference in San Francisco will continue as planned next month despite major players including Sony, Facebook, Microsoft and Epic Games cancelling their participation.

“The health and safety of players, developers, employees and our partners around the world is our top priority,” said Microsoft Game Stack in its announcement on Thursday.

The company said it would move its presence to a digital-only event on 16, 17 and 18 March.

The California Department of Public Health, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, and the San Francisco Travel Association continue to support the convening of public events, organizers at the Game Developers Conference despite the mayor calling a state of emergency over the virus this week.

US health officials confirmed a new case of coronavirus infection in northern California on Wednesday. The case concerned a patient who had no known travel to a country where a virus outbreak has been taking place, or connection to a known patient – a sign that the virus is spreading in an American community.

The virus is also expected to weigh on the global personal computer market, according to tech research firm IDC, which forecasts shipments of desktops, notebooks and tablets will fall 9% in 2020.

Chinese factories making critical PC components have been hit by an extended shutdown that will cause a supply crunch in the second quarter, IDC said. It said the virus is also leading to reduced demand. The new forecast comes a day after Microsoft said it won’t meet revenue targets that had already factored in the uncertainty.