Google I/O will apparently return to Shoreline Amphitheater, a short walk from Google's Mountain View, Calif. headquarters, this May. It'll be the second time Google has hired the concert venue for its developer conference, and that's a significant development because last year's event didn't run entirely smoothly.
Ask developers who paid $900 of their own money to attend, and they'd complain of long lines, longer waits, lack of shade, inadequate seating for many sessions. Google's intention was to create a more open, festival-like atmosphere, in contrast to the traditional event space of San Francisco's Moscone West, where I/O was held in years past. Moscone is a purpose-built convention complex — air conditioned, with plentiful seating, and places to stand that aren't in direct sunlight. The other side of that coin is it's a relatively stuffy, nondescript place — the very opposite of Shoreline.
The fact that Google is willing to stick with this unconventional venue — for a dev conference, anyway — shows that it believes I/O '16 wasn't a total loss.
So it must've been tempting for Google to fall back on I/O's old home territory, even if it meant losing some of the whimsical magic of Shoreline, and cutting back on attendee numbers. (The Moscone Expansion Project, which will expand the venue, won't be completed until January 2018.) The fact that Google is willing to stick with this unconventional venue — for a dev conference, anyway — shows that it believes I/O '16 wasn't a total loss.
And I agree. At its core, an open, outdoor event where developers, enthusiasts and Googlers can mix — and where the company can show off all manner of crazy experiments, and bring devs face to face with things like Project Loon — is a great idea. The flaws with last year's I/O stemmed from the execution, not the concept. With a little improvement to its crowd management, larger tents and shaded spaces (and perhaps a more realistic attitude towards the numbers it can accomodate under the sun in late May.)
It's also heartening to see Google mostly eschewing the expensive swag bags for which earlier I/O events had become known. The money it would've spent handing out free toys to attendees surely contributed to it being able to invite more people, and secure a larger venue. (Google has deep pockets, but its events budget isn't infinite.)
I'm expecting Google I/O 2017 to build on the genuinely enjoyable aspects of last year's show, while ironing out logistical issues that left attendees baking in the California sun. It's going to be a big year for Google, and we'll be looking for the company to set out its vision for the future of Chromebooks, Assistant, Home, Android and much more!
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