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Attendees React

From the Show Floor - Attendees React

by , 5:30 PM EDT, July 15th, 2004

As the second in a three-part series, TMO has gauged the reactions of the attendees at the Macworld Boston show. Yesterday the exhibitors got their chance to react; today we ask whether the show has been fun, whether the attendees would return to a similar show next year, what has and has not worked about the show, and -- of course -- the impact of Apple's absence.

How Goes the Show?

We asked 16 attendees whether they enjoyed the show, and only three were affirmatively disappointed. Three more hedged, and the remaining 10 all said they were happy. This might bode well for the show, except that comments accompanying the questions were usually more subtle.

There was a prevailing sentiment on the show floor, which cruised somewhere in the region between guardedly positive and equivocatingly negative. Andrew, sent to the show by his employer, the Concord Review Society, didn't find the seminars as useful as he had hoped. Computer savvy but not a Mac user, he indicated that the quality of the program was not bad, but that he felt he was not the type of attendee the instructors had planned for.

Lauren and Susan were visiting on Super Passes as representatives of the Rome City School District in New York. They enjoyed the sessions on iPhoto, InDesign and Office 2004; but the sessions they attended were primarily geared toward industry professionals. "We're looking for things that we can pass on to students," Susan said. "We'd like to see more [sessions] for educators."

Sixten, visiting on a user pass, laughed when asked if he was enjoying the show. "It feels a little cobbled together," referring to logistical hitches he had perceived. Billy and Michelle, who run the firm Studio Graphics, and were attending their first Macworld, had a mixed reaction: "The sessions are good, but [the show floor] is less than what we expected."

Worth the While?

Among those to whom we spoke, there were about two new Macworld attendees to every three veterans. When asked about the possibility of returning next year, assuming the show was similar, nine said they would definitely return; two said they definitely would not; five said they were unsure.

While Lauren and Susan from Rome, NY found the show worthwhile, they probably won't come back next year. "I'd come in a few years," said Lauren; and as for Susan, "I'd come on a smaller pass."

Sixten does not intend to return to the show, citing "value for money" issues. However, it "would be a draw if [Apple] were here."

The Incredible Missing Apple

Herein lies most of the commentary. Only a few of those to whom we spoke mentioned Apple specifically until prompted, but then everyone had something to say. No one thought Apple's absence was positive, though four people said they were indifferent. Everyone else thought it negative.

Adri, a self-described "design geek," was very positive about the show, and said Apple's absence did not matter to her, and that she liked the "more personal feel" of a less spread-out, small exhibition hall. On the other hand, Seth, who does not own a Mac, liked what he saw but wished Apple was around so he could learn more about its products.

Eileen, head of museum design firm ZMD Inc., felt "it would be nice if there were more [exhibitors] here," both of consumer and professional products. As for whether Apple's presence was an issue, she said, "Not really, but if Apple were here, more [vendors] would have come."

We asked Thomas, an employee of The Pennysaver Inc., if he was enjoying the show. "I think it's a disappointment because Apple isn't here," he snapped. Furious with the company's decision to skip the show, which he called "a mistake," he said, "I think it's ridiculous." Although he was offended by Apple's absence, he did find some exhibitors to satisfy his interest in music. While at the show he purchased a MIDI keyboard from one vendor.

Of Apple's absence Billy says, "It's kind of a bummer." Michelle clarified: "We think more badly of Apple than Macworld [the show itself]."

Corey, who is on his first Macworld, was among the disappointed. At the same time, however, there is some indication that Apple's absence is helping clarify the separation between the company and the wider platform. "I always thought Mac and Apple were the same thing," Corey explained.

Amongst the people to whom we talked, it was not clear why Apple skipped the show. One commonly held opinion was voiced by Mark: "What I heard is that they were mad that it [the show] was moved from New York."

Mark summed up the opinion of many attendees we spoke to: "I personally don't think it mattered, but I think it's a bad idea for Apple."

Stay tuned for the opinions of our staff, coming soon.

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