Now How About Macworld Expo 2011?

Macworld Expo 2010 is now behind us, though I'm sure we'll continue to publish and read news and reports from the show for some time to come. I've shared enough about my feelings on this past year's show on more than a few podcasts, so on that subject I'll simply summarize that I believe it to have been a success.

With that out of the way, let's look forward, shall we?

Let Us Not Assume

As I headed out of the exhibit hall for the last time on Saturday evening, a friend said to me, "thank goodness this isn't the last time we get to do this." This, of course, was referring to the fact that dates have been announced for Macworld Expo 2011 as well as the positive vibes we all were feeling while at the show last week. However, I don't think IDG announcing dates and pre-registering some exhibitors guarantees us anything at this point. It's good momentum, for sure -- momentum the show needs -- but it's not a guarantee that it will happen.

The reality is that this particular unit of IDG is in business to make money producing the Macworld trade show. If it can't continue to do that, it has no reason to exist. Sure, they can be (and have been) a good steward for the Mac community, but that necessarily has to play second fiddle to their bottom line. If it's not profitable, they won't do it. If not *enough* exhibitors or attendees sign up for 2011, and the show doesn't appear on track to be profitable by, say, the end of August, my guess is that IDG could easily can the whole thing as we saw with the last planned Boston expo. I wouldn't blame them in the least for this, though I'd be upset if it were canceled.

I'm Being Selfish

Make no mistake: my desire to see Macworld Expo continue into 2011 and beyond is not the least bit altruistic. Our businesses benefit greatly from having all those readers, listeners, and vendors in one place at one time. When I think of what it would take to meet with that many vendors on even a biennial basis, it makes the purse-strings (and travel nerves!) stretch to the limit. I definitely don't want to do that, and therefore very much would like to see Macworld Expo continue forth. I also, of course, like to see all my friends, colleagues, listeners and readers, and would miss the heck out of playing with my dear friends in the Macworld All-Star Band. But yes, all of this is 100% selfish.

It's Up To You

If you're someone who could be an attendee, decide if Macworld Expo's existence is important to you as well as whether or not you see value in attending next year. If either are true, register and plan to attend.

If you're a potential exhibitor, think very carefully about your choices. As I see it right now, we have three types of exhibitors:

  • Those companies that exhibited this year. They supported the concept of a show without Apple when there were a lot of unknowns. For this, I applaud each and every one of them. I hope they all had a stellar experience and come back.
  • Those that sat out for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being that they wanted to take a wait-and-see approach before committing funds to something that had so many unknowns. I don't fault these folks at all, and I hope many of them will come in off the sidelines and exhibit next year
  • Those companies who had all or part of their staff at Macworld Expo 2010, but didn't exhibit and instead just took meetings and otherwise were satellites around the show. Again, I understand the many reasons for wanting to do this, but they're only valid to the extent the show can exist without you exhibiting.

The issue going forward is that if too many potential exhibitors choose to stay on the sidelines, there won't be a Macworld 2011 to discuss. Decide if that works best for your business. If it does, then absolutely don't sign up. But if you see value in having your customers, potential customers, and all that press in one place at one time (on their dime!), then I strongly suggest you consider signing up for Macworld 2011 right now. If you plan to wait until the last-minute to decide, you may be far too late.