Engst: Mac Industry Marching to a Different Beat

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In previous years, Macworld Expo showcased vendors whose products were closely tied to Apple and the product ship dates tied to the Expo event. Nowadays, however, a wider range of vendors with a more independent approach and less emphasis on shipping product are making their appearance at Macworld Expo, according to Adam Engst at Tidbits on Monday.

"But despite the numerous vendors showing iPod and iPhone cases at Macworld Expo, and a wide variety of iPod-compatible speaker systems, numerous companies exhibited products that have little to do with Appleis primary markets," Mr. Engst wrote.

For example, while Apple was rumored to be developing a tablet computer, they did not. Instead Axiotron shipped the long awaited Modbook. Enterprise companies like Iron Mountain and IBM made an appearance. [As did CEDIA, TMO notes.]

There were other companies who felt the need to get in front of Apple customers. "We even saw companies like Polar Bear Farm showing iPhone applications in advance of Appleis release of the iPhone software development kit (SDK)," Mr. Engst noted. "This is a company that canit even use the iPhone without jailbreaking and unlocking it, since Apple doesnit sell the iPhone in New Zealand yet. The company was demonstrating applications that canit be purchased, based on a business model - how Apple will allow iPhone applications to be sold - that remains unknown."

Some companies were showing products, in beta, that are very far from shipping. "Although the show date has been known for at least a year and was even a week later than normal this year, a surprising number of companies were showing products that werenit shipping. EMC was perhaps the most notable among this group, showing only screenshots of Retrospect X and promising a public beta for the third quarter of 2008. There were also plenty of other examples: Parallels Server and VMware Fusion Server, which enable users to virtualize multiple copies of Leopard Server, were in beta and preview releases, respectively," Mr. Engst reported.

This all represents an important shift in the nature of Macworld, according to Mr. Engst. The success of Apple has led many companies to justify the expense of a Macworld presence, and it also seems to suggest a certain independence from Apple as the potential of the Apple market broadens.

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