We’re living in strange times. Yeah, it’s getting pretty old to say that, but it’s hard to ignore the way the coronavirus pandemic has affected day-to-day life. For this reporter, that means no physical tech events for the foreseeable future.
Case in point: ZDNet reports Microsoft plans on hosting all its 2020 events as “digital-first” experiences, as confirmed by a spokesperson:
In light of the challenges presented by COVID-19, we are adjusting our event calendar and strategy. For the remainder of 2020, we are embracing the opportunity to experiment with new platforms to provide our partners, customers, and developers the highest quality, digital-first experiences.
Furthermore, ZDNet claims Microsoft is considering making events in the first half of 2021 digital-only as well – including Build 2021 – citing sources familiar with the matter. When asked, Microsoft said it will “continue to evaluate the event landscape.”
That the company is considering canceling in-person events over a year in advance speaks to the massive disruption coronavirus has caused in the tech industry. The digital-first measures taken by companies like Microsoft are obviously necessary; before coronavirus even hit it was a running joke (or rather, recurring truth) within TNW that someone will get sick after a massive conference like CES.
But even setting aside the current pandemic, the move speaks to waning interest in massive conferences. Nintendo‘s decision to avoid a large presentation at E3 and move to digital announcements has largely been a success for the company. One is left to wonder how long it will take for such events to occur at a normal pace again, if we ever get to that point.