Apple brings WWDC back to San Jose in 2017

Apple on Thursday will announce that it’s bringing its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) back to San Jose, Calif. This will be the first time WWDC will be in San Jose since 2002— the conference moved to San Francisco in 2003. I spoke to Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing about the move.

WWDC will be held the week of June 5, 2017 at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose. Schiller said registration will begin on March 27, giving developers plenty of time to make travel plans to attend the show.

Schiller said that downtown San Jose is going to provide a great environment for developers attending the conference. Of course, San Jose has the added benefit of being close to Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, which should make logistics much easier for the company, especially when it comes to getting engineers on site.

According to Schiller, WWDC 2017 will be about the same size as previous conferences—about 5,000 developers and 1,000 engineers. The cost of tickets to the conference will also remain the same, he said.

WWDC 2017 will focus on all platforms—macOS, tvOS, watchOS, and iOS, Schiller said. Apple will still stream and offer on-demand video of the conference sessions for those developers that cannot attend in person.

Of course, Apple is a much different company now than it was the last time they held a WWDC in San Jose. The big news in 2002 was Mac OS X 10.2, QuickTime 6, and Rendezvous. That was also the year Steve Jobs gave a eulogy for Mac OS 9 during a mock funeral on stage. I remember that WWDC very well.

I contacted the mayor’s office in San Jose and they are very happy with Apple’s decision, as you may expect.

“We’re ecstatic that Apple has chosen to host its WWDC 2017 in San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley and site of the very first WWDC,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “We look forward to working with Apple to create a special experience for the thousands of attendees who will visit San Jose for this marquee event. And on behalf of our entire city, I’d like to extend a warm invitation to Apple developers, partners and enthusiasts from around the world to join us in Downtown San Jose as Apple unveils its latest innovations.”

My big hope is that the cost of hotels, restaurants and all of the sundry expenses that developers found overwhelming in San Francisco will decline in San Jose. I know many developers that stopped going to WWDC because the cost of a week in San Francisco was just too high. Some developers stayed outside the city to reduce costs, but that left them out of many events that happened during the evening.

I’ve spent some time in San Jose over the years and I really like the city. It’s clean, friendly, and there are quite a few bars and restaurants in the downtown area to accommodate the developers attending WWDC.

As a side note to this news, I’d like to say that I will be holding my WWDC party again this year, and I’ll be moving it to San Jose. Last year we had over 1,000 people attend the party and everyone had a great time. I’ll share more news on that in the coming weeks.

I like this move by Apple. San Jose is where WWDC began, it’s a great city that is excited to have the developer community there, and hopefully it will be more affordable. (Also the weather is much, much nicer than San Francisco). I don’t see any downside to this announcement at all.

See you all in San Jose.

  • One big downside is that a lot of people going to WWDC in San Jose are going to have to rent cars, or try to deal with cabs, Uber, and Lyft. It’s a lot easier to get around without a car in San Francisco than it is in San Jose.

    There will probably be a lot fewer evening parties hosted at various company’s headquarters, too. There are tons of tech companies within walking distance of Moscone in San Francisco. I’m not sure if there are any at all within walking distance of San Jose’s McEnery Convention Center.

    Then there’s AltConf: Will it try to find a space in San Jose or stay in San Francisco? A lot of their sponsorship is from companies in San Francisco, so their funding might be shaken up a bit.

    • This is only partially true. Downtown San Jose is pretty walkable, compact, and has several mass transit options (VTA, Amtrak, Caltrain) nearby as well as a ton of VTA buses. Sure, they’re not BART, but honestly SF’s mass transit is itself mediocre by any major city standards. Plus, San Jose airport is really close to downtown, which is convenient.

      As for tech companies… yeah, San Jose was intended to have many but the times have changed. There’s only a few big ones, and probably not related to WWDC to host parties.

      (And of course the rest of San Jose is Car Central. But, again, tons of people use Lyft and Uber in SF, too.)

      • Downtown San Jose is compact because there just isn’t all that much there. 😉 Plus there’s not that much to go to within two or three stops (or even more) on VTA, either.

        As for San Jose airport, while it’s only 4 miles from downtown SJ vs 14 miles from SFO to SF, there’s no direct transit between it and the convention center. Google Maps says you need to take a bus to 1st Street to get on light rail, and the minimum trip time is 35 minutes, which is the same as BART from SFO to downtown SF. So its closeness is no advantage. You’ll save a few bucks but instead of hopping on a single train you have to make a mode change, which is well known to be a significant deterrent to transit usage.

        • Sure, it’s nothing like SF. On the other hand, there are enough bars and the like, and you’ll be able to walk around without a coat. 🙂 For an informal evening I really don’t mind downtown SJ at all, it’s quirkier than one might expect and summer is actually, well, summery, which matters to me.

          And, yes, SJC transit is not fantastic, it’s just OK. But, frankly, the big advantage for non-locals is that Uber/Lyft from SJC to downtown San Jose is quick and pretty cheap.

          (Frankly, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend non-locals take BART and traipse through SoMa or the Tenderloin unless they’ve done it before. Before I moved out here, I was shocked at my first walk from Powell St. BART to the Union Square hotels… and this is coming from a formerly lifelong New Yorker. Sure, I handled it just fine and it’s reasonably safe, but if you’re not an urbanite it might be overwhelming in the first place.)

  • I don’t think it’s going to be all that much cheaper. San Jose is in the top 10 most expensive cities in America. But there’s no argument about the weather being better.

  • Caleb Hightower

    Too bad it won’t be in their new digs.

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