The Surprising Reason Behind Google I/O’s New Venue

January 12, 2016, 10:04 PM UTC
Cycling Routes And Directions Added To Google Maps
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA - MARCH 10: A bicyclist rides by a sign at the Google headquarters March 10, 2010 in Mountain View, California. Google announced today that they are adding bicycle routes to their popular Google Maps and is available in 150 U.S. cities. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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Google is always in a state of flux, so it’s no surprise that after 10 years the company’s premier annual event, Google I/O, is changing venues. Announced on Tuesday via Twitter by CEO Sundar Pichai, the annual developer conference will take place May 18–20 at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, Calif., moving from downtown San Francisco’s Moscone Center, where it has been held since 2008.

This year’s developer conference marks the tenth anniversary of Google’s first developer day, a conference that was also held in Mountain View, one reason for changing the 2016 event site, said Pichai in a Google+ post. But Google I/O 2016 will also be the first developer conference hosted by the company under its new Alphabet corporate structure. The annual meeting may have been relocated to the original venue simply to mark a new beginning for the company.

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Developer conferences like Google I/O usually consist of an opening day keynote during which exciting new products and services are demoed on stage. The following days consist of attendees shuffling between various classrooms, where they are walked through new tools and features by Google employees.

In prior years, Google (GOOD) has used Google I/O to demonstrate new software and hardware products. For instance, the company recently used the even to show off the next version of Android, its mobile operating system, along with enhancements to its Chrome OS computer operating system.

This year, it’s likely Google will preview an early build of Android N at the conference. It’s also possible the company will preview of a hybrid Chrome OS-Android operating system that the company has been rumored to have been working on.

MORE: Google Merging Chrome OS And Android? Not So Fast

However, when reports of the new operating system first surfaced in Oct., the company denied it was abandoning Chrome OS, stating it was committed to the lightweight, web-based system for the foreseeable future.

Another possible announcement slated for the conference is Google announcing its own line of smartphones, designed and manufactured entirely within the company, similar to the recently released Pixel C tablet.

And given that Google has chosen an outdoor venue to hold its event, it’s always possible that moonshot projects could land at the show. For instance, the company could preview Project Loon, its initiative to deliver wireless internet connectivity to remote locations via high-altitude balloons. And with a large parking lot and enough space to accommodate more than 20,000 people, Google self-driving car demonstrations aren’t a stretch, either.

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With this surprising venue choice, Google I/O has certainly raised eyebrows. And with enough resources to customize Shoreline Amphitheater however it sees fit, Google won’t be confined by space at the event. What will that lead to? As Pichai’s tweet indicated, we can expect Google to release more details in the coming weeks.

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