Deep Thoughts: The Expo Through The Eyes Of A Long Time Attendee

Having missed MACWORLD SF 2000, the last Expo I attended was in New York last year. Upon walking into the Javits this time around, I immediately felt the Expo was huge. It takes up both sides of one floor of the Javits Center as it did last year, but this year itis full. Really full. Last year there was a LOT of open space in the North wing (which included the now-missing gaming area), and this time around itis packed. And thatis fantastic. Really fantastic.The vibe on the floor is positive. Everyoneis excited about all the new offerings. Of course the new stuff from Apple is on everyoneis minds, but itis more than that. 3dfx is finally making an official offering to the Mac Market with their Voodoo 4500 and 5500 cards, Microsoft is demonstrating Office:2001, and PowerOn has been running presentations of itis upcoming Rewind package. The attendees are positive towards the new vendors, and happy to see the old ones return. There are more and more "independent" websites that have their own booths, and that makes us especially thrilled. It shows that weire in a growing market.And grow the Mac market will. With iMacs available at US$799, I think weire going to see the Mac market change. It puts the iMac into the hands of those people who would otherwise be forced into buying a cheap Gateway or Compaq machine, and thatis a good thing. While I certainly donit expect or predict the Mac market will ever be a major threat to the Windows world, I do imagine that the Mac market will take on some of the traits of the Windows world, many of which will be unappealing to the current Mac diehards. I think weill begin to see folks who are Mac users only because that was the computer they could afford, not because they WANTED it. Keep in mind, folks -- most people donit buy a Windows machine because they LOVE it, they buy it because they need to do something that requires it. With iMacs that inexpensive, weire going to get the people that just want to use a computer and donit give a hoot about the operating system or any such thing. They will just use it as an appliance, and thatis that. Is this a good thing? I donit know, but itis certainly worth a second thought. We may find that the very growth we demanded for our beloved community will change it in such a way that itis not quite as intimate. Only time will tell.One thingis for sure, though -- weill see the dynamics change. Itis obvious that the Mac market is becoming a viable platform for many previously PC-only companies, and theyire excited to dive in. The show floor is full of that excitement, and it will certainly carry forward after the end of the Expo.Hold on to your hats, folks... after an Expo this big, the ensuing rideis gonna be a thriller!