Whither Macworld Expo?

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Macworld organizers on Wednesday held a town hall meeting to discuss the West coast edition's future, given Apple's decision last month to make this year's show its final one. The East coast edition of Macworld Expo lasted two more years after Apple's final appearance there in 2003.

The company has also pulled back from other trade shows, including the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the now-defunct Paris Expo, citing its ability to more efficiently reach customers through press events and its global network of stores. Phil Schiller, Apple's Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, noted during his Tuesday morning keynote address that Apple stores see 3.4 million visitors worldwide each week, which is equal to 100 Macworlds.

According to Macworld's Jim Dalrymple, who attended Wednesday night's discussion, attendees offered a number of suggestions for next year, such as a return to Boston or New York, which previously hosted the East coast Macworld Expo. Others thought the show could move between cities, or even include film or music festivals as part of its programming.

Macworld Expo organizers clearly want to stave off the possible death of the show, given how quickly the East coast version died. Visitors to the trade show's web site currently see a splash image informing them that the San Francisco edition is still planned for January 4-8, 2010, along with the tag line "The start of a new era."

Paul Kent, Macworld Expo's vice president and general manager, was quoted as saying: "We come to Macworld to be inspired. This show is going to evolve and you need to know that we are embracing this evolution. We want Apple to go build more great products and then we'll be here to show you how to use them." Mr. Dalrymple said that Mr. Kent also cited a few statistics: 85 to 90 percent of conference session trainers are already committed to the 2010 show, along with 60 companies, including HP and Microsoft.

Mr. Dalrymple noted that free registration for Macworld Expo 2010 has started, and he gave out an email address for feedback and ideas: suggestionbox@macworld2010.com.

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This whole situation is sad. Apple’s decision, while theirs to make, has obviously disrupted a lot of people’s vision. I myself could probably never get to a MW convention, but I duly love following it only, the hype, the anticipation. That’s what has been so great for Apple and I think they’ve thrown it under the bus. So, it’s not the same as 3.5 million per Mac store. But it gets the attention of those 3.5 million who then GO to the store. This was the year I had planned to replace my 7 year old G4. Finally. Except they didn’t announce anything new other than a laptop. Sorry, I have one of them from work. Mini’s are great, but I’m a power user and the video card isn’t sufficient for my needs. I use multiple screens, that pretty much rules out the iMac for me (often more than 2). And I can’t quite justify $3600 for a new tower.

But that doesn’t stop me from drooling, saving a bit more money, and waiting for the next big announcement. It was the cache that MWSF brings to Apple and vice versa that I think they underestimate in Cupertino.


Here’s what I would like to see.

First, let’s bring it back to the East coast for a couple of years or at least one year in New York and one year in San Francisco. Hell even add a third location like Chicago, so those of use who would love to go, but find the flight costs prohibitive, have one less financial burden to hurdle.

Second, why do it at the first of the year? Let’s shoot for a time when people are not normally traveling a lot or just after a holiday. I’m thinking May, June or September, October frame.

And Third. Really define in the promoting of MW that it’s an Art, Music and Cultural Event. Over the past few years the graphics and info just come across as a big Apple geek fest (which I understand it is) instead of promoting it as an Ultimate Apple EXPERIENCE.


I was at MWSF and asked a number of exhibitors if they would return next year considering Apple would not be there. The response ran the full gamut - from “no” to “maybe” to “if there’s a Macworld, we’ll be here”.

In any case, this is a fait accompli. MWSF 2010 will go ahead. The bookings are already in.

I look forward to seeing how well it is attended and whether IDG can keep it exciting and relevant. I think it’s entirely possible.

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