TMO Reports - Exhibitors Happy With Expo Response; Doubtful Of Being At Boston

by , 5:00 PM EST, January 9th, 2004

Exhibitors at this year's Macworld Expo In San Francisco are upbeat about attendance and sales at the show despite the obvious downturn in the economy, but many have already decided not to exhibit at the controversial east coast show planned for Boston this coming July.

Exhibitors ranging from software developers to laptop carrying cases to book sellers spoke highly of turnout and strong sales but admitted this year's show was not as strong as previous Expo's.

"We've had tremendous traffic and sales," Gary-Paul Prince, Promotions Manager for Peachpit Press, told The Mac Observer. "But traffic is down from last year, so I would say our book sales will be on par with last year, but flat."

For the Photoshop users group, the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP), the show has been a big success with its booth and surrounding isles packed for four straight days.

"An excellent show for us," commented Dave Moser, Executive Publisher of MacDesign magazine, which is also part of the NAPP group. "We've been told by IDG World Expo (the show management company) that we've had the third busiest booth in terms of visiting attendees...We feel good that customers are walking away with just a little bit of knowledge and will remember us when they start using Photoshop and Photoshop Elements."

Mike Santoro, President of laptop luggage maker MacCase, however, a successful show is not all about money. While admitting he will make a profit in selling his high-quality laptop cases at this year's Expo, he is starting to wonder if the cost is worth for his small company.

"Sales have been great, but if it were not for the fact I live in this area, my costs would have been so excessive, I wouldn't have exhibited and I know there are a lot of other small exhibitors that feel the same way," Santoro said.

Santoro said that while knowing the former east coast show in New York City at Jacob Javits Center was much more expensive to exhibit at, he feels the San Francisco show has its own set of problems.

"This show is insanely expensive to do," Santoro said. "I feel that IDG World Expo restricts me from doing this show for cheaper. It's gangsterism to charge me US$80 to lay down a piece of carpet. I can't bid that out. I have to pay it. That's un-American. There's no free market here."

When told that has always been the way conventions have done business, Santoro reacted, "But that doesn't make it right."

For speech recognition software company MacSpeech, the show has been a big success.

"A complete success," commented Michael Schwing, Chief Financial Officer for the makers of iListen. "We sold out of our new transcription solution Thursday at 10am and we won't be re-stocked for another ten days. That's good business in our book."

Compared to sales the past three years MacSpeech has attended Macworld Expo on the west coast, Schwing said this show had the best results.

Looking forward

Of the four companies, MacSpeech, Peachpit Press and NAPP have already committed to exhibiting in San Francisco in January, 2005. Santoro is on the fence. "We'll see how things go the remainder of the year for us," he said.

As for the next Expo show scheduled for Boston this coming July, only Peachpit Press has tentatively committed to exhibit at the east coast show and will make a final decision in the next two weeks.

MacSpeech, NAPP and MacCase said they would not attend. The Boston-bound show has been controversial with Apple publicly stating the company would not exhibit. IDG World Expo is headstrong, and is not backing down from doing the show, whether Apple attends or not.

The biggest reason MacSpeech, NAPP and MacCase said they would not exhibit in Boston was the fact Apple would not be there as well. "Without Apple there, no one is exhibiting and no one will attend, at least not in large numbers," said Schwing, who's company is based closest of the four companies interviewed, in New Hampshire.