Today IDG announced that Macworld/iWorld Expo would go on hiatus. I’ve seen some great things go on hiatus and come back, and I’ve also seen some great things get canceled and come back (one particular example comes to mind of the same thing coming back from both hiatus and cancelation – better than it had been, even). At this point, though, I don’t think it much matters whether we call this a hiatus or a cancelation, as Macworld/iWorld Expo won’t happen in any form next year, 2015 or likely ever again.
Part of me is sad about this, of course. Macworld Expo has been a part of both my professional and personal life for decades. I used to go to Expos on both coasts as an attendee, then in 1999 I attended for the first time as press right after we started The Mac Observer. Not much was different for me that year, but over time my professional involvement related to the Expo grew, and many great things happened, including the birth of Cirque du Mac (which celebrated is eleventh iteration earlier this year).
That’s a heckuva run.
So yes, I’m sad and I’ll miss what this Expo has meant to me, but i’m not at all surprised that it’s going away. In fact, this Expo lasted a few more years than I thought it would. Times have changed, and there’s no longer a need for an annual (or bi-annual, multi-coastal) consumer-focused Expo that attracts 80,000 attendees. That much has been proven time and again.
Macworld Expo was the last of its kind in our technology space. Another type of conference has taken over. The smaller, more-focused-on-the-people conference is what’s popular now. MacTech, Çingleton, Nerdtacular, NSConf, CocoaConf, ÚllConf and countless others I’m missing are all quite popular. These shows each cater to less than 1,000 people (perhaps less than one thousand in total). That's because these types of shows focus on the people and the content only, not the exhibitors.
There’s something else that's different about each of those conferences versus Macworld Expo: the audience. Those others are targeted at “industry” folks… press, developers, the movers-and-shakers creating products and the folks creating the industry itself. But not one of those conferences is targeted at you, the industry consumer, the reader of TMO.
IDG certainly could have decided to wholly change Macworld Expo and shed the exhibit floor, focus on the conferences and the attendee experience and attract somewhere between 500 and 5,000 people. That would be a great show to attend. Unfortunately for IDG this is where history is a fickle beast. If a show called “Macworld Expo” were to attract 1,000 attendees it would be seen as utter failure regardless of how successful it was.
Funny thing, too, because anyone else creating that very same, 1,000-person show would be heralded as a conference genius.
So yes, Macworld Expo is gone, and that’s unfortunate. But as often happens an unfortunate situation creates an opportunity, too… for you and for me. Do you want to go to a conference like I've described? Do I want to be in the conference business? Maybe so… maybe not. Watch this space and let’s see what happens!