As the final part of our three-part series on the reaction to Macworld Boston 2004, we interviewed TMO staff members to gauge their opinions. The recurring theme: "Who needs Apple?" With everyoneis expectations set so low, the buzz on the show floor was a surprise to us all.
Dave Hamilton: "I was quite (pleasantly!) surprised by this show. I came here not really knowing what to think, but with all the negative feedback everyone seemed to be passing around, I didnit really expect much. My expectations were far surpassed right from the get go. The Exhibit halls were buzzing each day. Even the ilittle guyi vendors really held peopleis interest and were able to get their messages out."
Ricky Spero: "If you only read the mainstream news outlets, youid think the only story to come out of Macworld was that Apple didnit attend. But TMO was there, and this week we were as busy as weive ever been."
John Braun: "I had more than enough pictures, more than enough vendors to meet, my schedule was full, and there was a lot of new stuff, despite Apple not being here. I think this is proof that you donit need Apple here to have a successful show."
Bryan Chaffin: "Macworld Boston succeeded far more than I thought it possibly could without Apple. Some attendees were disappointed by how few vendors there were, but at the same time, everyone I saw was busy checking stuff out, and all of the booths were busy."
Who knew an Apple-less show would be so easy? Bryan goes on to explain why, if viewed as a trial run, this Macworld could prove a very successful beginning. "This was the same thing we saw last year at New York: With the smaller show, vendors and attendees alike simply get more attention. That doesnit mean that smaller is better when it comes to this trade show, but it does mean that IDG has a base on which to build. Certainly Macworld Boston is (currently) a shadow of its former self, but what IDG proved to both the tech world and the Mac community is that Macworld doesnit depend on Apple. That might be a rude surprise for some in Cupertino."
Vern Seward, who was unable to attend the show, offered a contrary opinion. "Iive not had the time to pay much attention to Macworld. One thing I miss, however, is the Steve Jobs keynote. Since I seem to be perpetually unable to attend Macworlds for one reason or another, I get my Mac communion virtually by watching the keynotes live via the Web broadcasts. So the Boston Macworld, from afar at least, does nothing for me without Apple."
For those of us at the show, however, Dave highlights a realization we all shared: "It was refreshing to see a show where it was about the Mac instead of being about Apple. It would help boost awareness if Apple was there, but that comes at the price of the rest of the vendors losing some of that attention they come for."
After all, if there is no Steve Jobs keynote to watch, attendees are forced to visit some of the booths that [gasp!] arenit Appleis!
Ricky has a suggestion for IDG that will minimize the damage of Appleis absence: ADVERTISE. "You canit hold a show without Apple and then blindly expect people to show up. I interviewed exhibitors, and some were concerned that the attendees were all the in-crowd, the Mac junkies who would learn about all these products with or without the show. So next year IDG needs to make a real effort to advertise this show all over New England. Those enticed to attend will get to experience all the diversity of the Mac community without the distracting presence of Apple at the show."
Beyond advertising, our staff had plenty of suggestions for improvement.
John: "The convention center is too damn big. I wish they had it in a smaller place."
Dave: "The logistics of the show itself were really the only downside. The Expo center is in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but one (small) hotel and a few restaurants nearby; and being that it was so new, not even cabbies knew how to get to or from the place properly."
Vern: IDG could make Macworld more important to the Mac community by sponsoring webcasts of selected discussions or presentations.
In general, however, TMO was pleased with the show, even if we sound guardedly optimistic. As Bryan declares, "Look for next yearis show to be at least a bit bigger than this one."
Dave: "Hopefully [the showis deficiencies] will change in coming years, but otherwise I think this show has the potential to grow into something consistently worthwhile."
Ricky: "If IDG can increase the foot traffic next year and generate even a little hype, the payoff will be tremendous. It will increase faith in both the value of the Mac platform and the vitality of the Mac community."
With that, we will have to give John the final word on this show: "Boston is a refreshing venue, and the Mac All Star Band can rock anywhere."