I've discovered that there are two sides to Macworld conferences, one where hordes of people crowd around vendor booths and fill seats to watch demos of new products and to snap up show-only deals.
This is the public face of Macworld, it's what the vast majority of people hear and read about when someone writes about their time spent at the show.
The other side of Macworld comes to life when the showroom darkens and the stage mikes have gone silent. I refer to the parties sponsored by vendors and hosted in a variety of venues around town. To my mind, there are few things more interesting to watch and ultimately be a part of than watching a bunch of tech-geeks attempt to get their collective groove on.
On Tuesday night Macworld sponsored a well-attended bash. I'm told that in years passed the entertainment was live and well known; Cheap Trick was there one year, and another year saw Devo. This year, however, a DJ tried to get people jumping. The music was too loud and the selection not that great (Michael Jackson's Rock With You! Ouch!). If anyone was even half as jet-lagged as I was then that combination was not a recipe for getting down. Still, there were folks dancing, drinking, and generally having a good time.
One thing I noticed is that there was a distinct lack of ladies present; about one woman to every 10 guys and that could have had a lot to do with the muted groove I observed.
On Wednesday night I was much better rested and the festivities centered on Cirque Du Mac where TMO's very own Dave Hamilton, Bryan Chaffin, and Bob LeVitus along with a host of other Mac media notables rocked the house in their Macworld All Star Band.
Coming here is the first time I've met many of these guys in person and to look at them, with the possible exception of Bryan Chaffin, whose blond hair and goatee makes him look like a British rocker, you would not think these guys are the least bit inclined to rock [Editor's note: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!], but you'd be dead wrong. Dave Hamilton, the tall, clean cut choir boy is an absolute monster on the drums. In fact, every member of the All Star Band are major talents in their own right. And when these boys took the stage they proceeded to kick major rump and had people jamming way into the night. This group knows how to party.
Last night (Thursday) it was Your Mac Life's turn to put on a show, and put on they did. I got there an hour after the festivities started and immediately started to party. The band was amazing, the venue was choice, and the crowd - a more balanced male/female ratio - was already rocking when I arrived. The floor in front of the stage was packed with people dncing and all around the were heads bobbing, laughter, and in general, an amazing time.
At every party I met cool people which is really what what Macworld is about, meeting people who share a similar interest.
Back on the showroom floor, you really can't understand the size of the Macworld convention unless you see for yourself. I've been here nearly for four full days and I still haven't seen everything. You really do have to pick and choose what you want to look at closely and allow time for distractions. This being my first time here I felt swamped by the sheer size of the convention and the number of people attending. Massive.
In my next and last Macworld report I'll point out some of the smaller vendors I saw and talked to. I've said it before and I'll say it again, it is these folks that make Macworld what it is, and as things start to wind down I'm starting to realize that if Apple decides to never show up at Macworld again, so what. If IDG can manage to pull the major and minor vendors as they have done this year, then Macworld will survive the loss of Apple, and in all likelihood prosper.
It is true that Apple's presence is a big influence here at the show, but that influence, though somewhat diminished, will continue. Why? Because the common theme here is products and services for those who use Apple products.
So, after a fashion, as long as the show continues so will Apple's presences, albeit virtually.