Macworld Expo: It’s Our Show, Not Apple’s

| Jeff Gamet's Blog

Macworld Expo kicked off today, February 9, marking the fist year Apple won't have any kind of official presence at the conference. The Internet is full of reports that the event is dead in the water thanks to Apple pulling out, but those reports are flat-out wrong because it's really up to the attendees, vendors and IDG (the company behind conference) whether or not this is the year Macworld Expo dies.

Losing Apple as an exhibitor certainly was a disappointment. For some potential attendees, Apple's presence was a requirement to get authorization and funding from their employer to go. For others, that decision was made before Apple left because Adobe was already gone.

Also, the number of vendors is down compared to last year, so the expo floor won't be nearly as big has it has been in previous years. Smaller expo, no Apple, rainy season in San Francisco... It could be a recipe for disaster. 

That disaster, however, doesn't have to happen. Macworld Expo's lead man, Paul Kent, has been working to turn the conference into something that's much more interactive than it has been in the past, and he's been doing his best to make sure the conference sessions are timely and relevant.

Show room floor vendors have an opportunity to spend more time with the media and the people that buy their products because some of those big companies from years gone by aren't in their way anymore.

Some companies that previously attended the Expo moved over to CES this year, too, leading to talk about how that was yet another nail in Macworld Expo's coffin. With CES drawing such huge crowds compared to Macworld Expo, the idea was that vendors would get more for their money.

I'm betting at least a few of those companies will consider showing at Macworld Expo again in 2011 because the two events focus on different goals. CES is all about finding distribution channels and drumming up media interest, where Macworld Expo is about interacting with your colleagues, friends, session instructors and the companies that make the products we buy.

CES is focused on the commercial aspect of the industry, and Macworld Expo is geared towards consumers -- and that's what makes Macworld Expo such a special event. It's also the key to keeping the conference alive.

Attendees, instructors and exhibitors need to see some value in face to face interactions that happen at Macworld Expo to make the event worth coming back to. IDG had to make sure that it does everything it can to create the opportunity for that face time to happen in a productive way.

This conference and expo is an event for the people that take the time to come, which means it's our event -- and IDG's -- to make into a success or failure.

Macworld Expo has always been an important week out of my year because the in-person time I get to spend with the people and companies I talk about every day is far more than the money it takes for me to make the trek to San Francisco. I'm betting this year will be the same.

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Bryan Chaffin

Well said, Jeff. smile


I wonder if this will be like Macworld Boston after Apple left them in the Big Apple. That Boston show was small and put to rest the following year.

I hope not but if the map is true and it is only in Moscone’s North hall with half the floor dedicated to stages and art displays I begin to wonder if there will be a next year.


Time spent in Apple and Adobe booths has always been just a small fraction of the time I’ve spent at MacWorld Expo, and I’ve attended at least 20 MWSF Expos. I’m more frequently drawn to the smaller vendors and even the 1-person kiosks for interesting, new products and services. I’m always learning new ways to use Apple products, as well as finding deals and meeting people. I’m looking forward to this year’s Expo.


Sooo….. How many people showed up?

Bryan Chaffin

The show floor opens on Thursday, Woody, and we’ll be able to answer that question then.

ppartekim: The difference between the East Coast show’s demise and Apple pulling out of San Francisco, is that when the East Coast show folded, there was SF to fall back on. It was a constant refrain from vendors and the press: We’ll just go to the SF show.

My refrain on the issue of Apple pulling out of SF is that the rest of the Mac world still needs Macworld. Apple can get the press to flock to its media events, but no other company can claim the same. 

Vendors need to meet the press, vendors need to get face time with some of their customers, customers want to get face time with products and companies they can’t see at Apple’s retail stores, and the press needs to get their own face time with vendors and products. We need to maintain and extend our relationships and networks in order to better do our job.

And we all, as Mac users, need the great conferences and sessions we can mostly only find at a large trade show.

All of that remains the case, whether or not Apple is too myopic to understand or care.  Apple doesn’t need Macworld, but Apple’s ecosystem of developers and peripheral vendors do.


I’m at MacWorld right now.  At lunch from a training sessions. This is my first MacWorld.  Mine and two coworkers.  We came for the training and to meet others who use and know Mac’s.  We aren’t disappointed.  I don’t know how it was when Apple was here as we haven’t been here before, but we didn’t come for Apple.  We can go to the store for that.  We came to learn.  And so far, we are.


where Macworld Expo is about interacting with your colleagues, friends, session instructors and the companies that make the products we buy.

That was true of the East Coast Expo too.


“Show room floor vendors have an opportunity to spend more time with the media and the people that buy their products ...”

I’d bet that, for most vendors, 99+% of the “people who [not “that”] buy their products” never go to MacWorld. Probably a majority don’t even know that it exists. In the last quarter, Apple sold 3.36 million Macs. In the last Fiscal Year, Apple sold 10.4 million Macs. When Apple sold <1 million Macs/quarter, MacWorld perhaps made sense. Now, it’s probably mostly for media people (and wannabe media people like bloggers) and a few pros who are there for the training sessions. Who else will spend $1,000+ (if outside the SF area) to attend?

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