Macworld Expo kicked off today, February 9, marking the fist year Apple won't have any kind of official presence at the conference. The Internet is full of reports that the event is dead in the water thanks to Apple pulling out, but those reports are flat-out wrong because it's really up to the attendees, vendors and IDG (the company behind conference) whether or not this is the year Macworld Expo dies.
Losing Apple as an exhibitor certainly was a disappointment. For some potential attendees, Apple's presence was a requirement to get authorization and funding from their employer to go. For others, that decision was made before Apple left because Adobe was already gone.
Also, the number of vendors is down compared to last year, so the expo floor won't be nearly as big has it has been in previous years. Smaller expo, no Apple, rainy season in San Francisco... It could be a recipe for disaster.
That disaster, however, doesn't have to happen. Macworld Expo's lead man, Paul Kent, has been working to turn the conference into something that's much more interactive than it has been in the past, and he's been doing his best to make sure the conference sessions are timely and relevant.
Show room floor vendors have an opportunity to spend more time with the media and the people that buy their products because some of those big companies from years gone by aren't in their way anymore.
Some companies that previously attended the Expo moved over to CES this year, too, leading to talk about how that was yet another nail in Macworld Expo's coffin. With CES drawing such huge crowds compared to Macworld Expo, the idea was that vendors would get more for their money.
I'm betting at least a few of those companies will consider showing at Macworld Expo again in 2011 because the two events focus on different goals. CES is all about finding distribution channels and drumming up media interest, where Macworld Expo is about interacting with your colleagues, friends, session instructors and the companies that make the products we buy.
CES is focused on the commercial aspect of the industry, and Macworld Expo is geared towards consumers -- and that's what makes Macworld Expo such a special event. It's also the key to keeping the conference alive.
Attendees, instructors and exhibitors need to see some value in face to face interactions that happen at Macworld Expo to make the event worth coming back to. IDG had to make sure that it does everything it can to create the opportunity for that face time to happen in a productive way.
This conference and expo is an event for the people that take the time to come, which means it's our event -- and IDG's -- to make into a success or failure.
Macworld Expo has always been an important week out of my year because the in-person time I get to spend with the people and companies I talk about every day is far more than the money it takes for me to make the trek to San Francisco. I'm betting this year will be the same.