Apple Pulls Out Of Macworld Tokyo, IDG Cancels The Entire Show

by , 8:00 AM EST, December 5th, 2002

Apple has continued to trim its trade show operations, and has pulled out of Macworld Tokyo 2003. MacUser UK is reporting that Apple's pullout resulted in Adobe, Macromedia, and Microsoft dropping out as well, which resulted in IDG World Expos pulling the plug on the entire event. Macworld Tokyo is held during the spring, and officially attracts some 180,000 visitors every year.

Apple first began to suggest cut backs in its trade show appearances when it was first announced that the East Coast Macworld would be moving back to Boston in 2004. At that time, Apple said it was pulling out of the Boston show, and was reevaluating its role in what would be the last show in New York, in 2003. Apple reportedly told the Dow Jones News Wire: "Since IDG is no longer investing in New York, we now need to reevaluate our participation in Macworld New York 2003. Apple will continue to participate in Macworld San Francisco in January,"

It's not clear yet exactly why Apple is pulling out of Tokyo, though MacUser UK reported the following:

Sources familiar with the show said Apple had decided not to exhibit a number of months ago, even after repeated attempts by IDG to convince them to change their minds. After it was apparent Apple would not be the nucleus of a Tokyo show, Adobe, Macromedia and Microsoft also decided not to exhibit. It was only then, sources said, that the company decided the show would not bring in the expected revenue, additional exhibitors and attendance it needed to be profitable.

It appears a decision to cancel the show was made weeks ago, according to sources, and that IDG World Expo's Tokyo operation never planned on making a public announcement. When asked about this, a spokeswoman said the company had no plans to make an official announcement of the cancellation and would not be posting a notice on the company's Web site, but that they were responding to individual queries regarding Expo. At present, no link exists for the 2003 show on IDG's Japanese language Web site. On it's English language site, a mention of the 2003 show exists, but the link reverts to Web pages for the 2002 show.

There's more information in the full article at MacUser UK.

The Mac Observer Spin:

Having attended Macworld Tokyo 2002, we wondered where the organizers were hiding about 100,000 of those 180,000 visitors, but we weren't actually counting at the door. That said, Macworld Tokyo is, in fact, a big deal in Japan. The Japanese Mac User Groups go all out for the show, and help foster enormous participation on the part of Groups across the country.

It's interesting to see this shift in Apple's marketing strategy. As we reported this week, Apple claimed 365,000 visitors last week in its Apple Stores. That's 365,000, twice the amount of visitors to Macworld Tokyo, but the key difference is that Apple made money at its retail stores, and it costs money to show at a trade show. Do the math; it's simple, right?

Hardly. Trade shows generate millions of dollars in free press. That's not "press" as in "the Mac Web," but rather press as in mainstream publications from the Asahi Shinbun (a Japanese paper), to the Wall Street Journal. Throw in CNN, Headline News, CNBC, the networks, most of the major tech magazines, business magazines, and almost all of the major newspapers, and then you can begin to count the value of Macworld. That's a lot of exposure that far outweighs the cost of a show. So where does Apple draw the line? That's apparently what the company is trying to figure out.

There's another issue as well. Macworld acts as a Mecca to Macheads everywhere. It gives them an opportunity to be in a place where it's All Mac, All The Time. That feeling extends throughout the Mac community that gets into following the news from the shows, a number far larger than the 70,000 or so people who attend each US show. The same thing is true in Japan. How does one quantify the value in that?

So what's really at play here? It's probably little more than Apple's official line about Boston and Tokyo. The company is looking to see if it is spending its money in a way that can get word out to the most people. For our money, it's sad to see the show canceled for next year, and we hope it returns in 2004.