Is It Time for Appleworld?

Pop quiz. Do you recall the "big" announcement at the Macworld Expo keynote in 2007? Yup, that's an easy one. It was the unveiling of the iPhone. The gadget of the year - or was it the decade? Whatever. You couldn't actually buy one -- or even touch one -- until June. But it was still numero uno at the Expo.

Can your recall what was on the undercard that year? Give up? It was the Apple TV and the upgraded AirPort Extreme (with 802.11n).

Fast forward to January 2008. Do you remember the major keynote announcements at this most recent Expo, just 10 months ago? Topping the list was the MacBook Air, followed by Time Capsule, the 1.1.3 iPhone update (plus a mention of the Software Development Kit yet to come) and movie rentals in iTunes.

Add it up. That's a total of seven major product announcements in two years of keynotes. Now consider this: Five of the seven products (the MacBook Air and Time Capsule are the two exceptions) are cross-platform, targeted at PCs users as well as Macs owners.

It's no surprise that Apple Inc. is no longer just about the Mac—or even mainly about the Mac. Things have been moving in that direction ever since the iPod became popular. What you may not have realized is that Macworld Expo is no longer mainly about the Mac either. At least that's the message from the previous two Expos. And I fully expect the trend to continue in 2009.

It's not just Apple's emphasis. You couldn't walk the Expo's Exhibit Hall floor over the past few years without tripping over some booth filled with iPod peripherals -- from the ubiquitous cases to speaker systems. Indeed, some Mac users have complained that there has been too much iPod emphasis at the Expo. Don't expect it to change much this year. With the arrival of the App Store, there is reason for an even greater focus on the iPhone and iPod touch.

That's why it may be time to consider changing the name for the event: from Macworld Expo to Appleworld Expo. This would not only be a more technically accurate name, it could have the bonus effect of encouraging more attendance from PC users. Once inside, they might be sufficiently impressed that they decide to switch from a PC to Mac—mimicking what the Apple Stores have supposedly been accomplishing for years. At the very least, it all fits with the new spirit of bipartisanship that will hopefully be ushered in with the Obama administration. The Expo could give equal time to Macs running iTunes, PC running iTunes or even Macs running Windows running iTunes.

Okay. I'm being a bit facetious here. I don't really expect the name to change. Macworld Expo is more than a title. It's a brand. Changing the name now would be like changing the name of the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) to something else -- just because an increasing segment of its members are not really retired. Not gonna happen. Just like Macworld will almost certainly never become Appleworld.

Still, it's something to think about.