Facebook and Samsung: A tale of two developer conferences

This week, both Facebook and Samsung announced more details of their upcoming developer conferences. We took a look at the similarities and differences between these two events, and we also had a look further out on the events calendar – plenty of major developer conferences from big players are on the horizon.

Both Facebook and Samsung are planning two-day events that will be held in San Francisco. Facebook is April 12 and 13 and being held at Fort Mason Center in the Marina district. Samsung is April 27 and 28 happening at the more conventional Moscone Center.

From there, these two events quickly diverge. Facebook is focused much more on coding and technical issues. Most sessions are aimed at expanding and creating new opportunities for developers. It has a technical, practical, hands-on feel to it. The event is called F8, named after the Facebook tradition of having 8-hour hackathons. All speakers are from Facebook or a Facebook subsidiary (such as WhatsApp and Instagram). There are no external speakers, media or sponsorship opportunities available. Attendance is not done on a first-come, first-served basis; instead there’s an application or invitation process which will ultimately result in around 1,500 attendees paying $495 each for the opportunity.

By comparison, the Samsung Developer Conference (SDC) is taking a more general and discussion-led approach. The SDC strap line is “Connecting the Future Everywhere You Look”. Although the event promises technical sessions, it leans heavily on sponsorships and guest speakers. Companies headlining the agenda this year alongside Samsung include big names like Intel, Cisco and SmartThings (which is a Samsung company) as well as speakers from start-ups like Fuse and Vicarious. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the early bird rate of $399, rising to an onsite price of $599. There are various concessions available to previous attendees, students, and so on.

Both events tend to offer high-end swag which varies from year to year. Samsung, naturally enough, tends to focus on its own hardware, whereas Facebook takes a more creative approach, occasionally featuring high-end poster prints and stickers alongside more traditional techy gadgets. Of course, developers don’t come to these events simply to get a goodie bag, but the “Oprah moments” certainly help to drum up excitement during the show.

It is also worth noting that developer events are coming fast and furious this spring. The 2016 Game Developers Conference is March 14 – 18; Microsoft’s Build is March 30 to April 1. Both of these events are in San Francisco, and both will be taking place at the Moscone Center. It is worth noting that Build sold out in one minute, and there is currently a waiting list for attendees (most sessions will be live streamed via Channel 9 for those who cannot attend in person). Even more interesting, there is no plan for hardware giveaways during Build this year, which has always been a crowd-pleaser in the past.

And let’s not forget that Google I/O is preparing for its 10th anniversary event from May 18 – 20. This year, they have decided to host the event near their company headquarters, in Mountain View, leading to speculation that self-driving cars will have a significant spot on the agenda.

Finally, Intel has announced the dates of its event, the Intel Developer Forum (IDF16), for later this year (August 16 -18) also at the Moscone Center. No further details are available at this time but we’ll be sure to write it up when they announce.

It’s clear to see that not all developer conferences are created equal. Just as these companies continue to evolve their developer offerings, the same can be said for the strategies they deploy for their flagship events.

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