First of all, does anyone even get that movie reference? Does it show my age? It shouldn’t, because It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World was released before I was born. But the fact that I even know it probably indicates I’ve been at this Apple thing longer than the recent influx of iOS users.
My age is appropriate here, because I take that legacy with me to what we now call Macworld / iWorld. I went to my Macworld Expo when they still held them in New York City in the summer, and I started going to the San Francisco events back when it took two halls of Moscone to contain the show.
It’s no secret, though, that the expo has grown considerably more “intimate” since Apple made its last appearance back in 2009. Steve Jobs wasn’t there. Tony Bennett was. Phil Schiller spoke at the keynote about pretty much nothing. On the show floor, we were hit with our first realization that the iOS ecosystem was becoming more important than what was then known as Mac OS. iOS gadget developers were everywhere, as were CES representatives, trying to lure potential exhibitors to Las Vegas the following year, since the shows tended to overlap back then.
The mood was dire. Could Macworld succeed without Apple on the show floor? Are expos in general a thing of the past? IDG held a Town Hall at the show to get ideas for next year, and that was maybe the saddest thing of all. I wrote of it at the time:
In an effort to get this started, IDG held a Macworld Expo Town Hall to solicit ideas for Macworld 2010. It felt a bit more like an AA meeting than anything else—”Hi. My name’s Fred Dogcow, and this is my 12th Macworld Expo.” (Polite applause.)—but maybe that was the point. Some suggestions were obvious (get the show the hell out of January), some were absurd (Macworld Expo Texas?). We at Appletell had two pretty brilliant suggestions, we thought, but felt it best not to offer them at that time.
- Booth babes.
- Bring back Apple.
Even if our suggestions don’t fly, I believe there will be a Macworld Expo next year.
Well, there was, and it went surprisingly well. Without Apple the share to steal the show (or to sink it, depending upon how the Keynote went), attendees were able to devote full attention to the other exhibitors. And although the Mac software/hardware vendors continued to dwindle, iOS developers picked up the slack quite effectively. As such, the focus of the show began to shift, as reflected in the event’s name. I saw this at the time as IDG attempting to save the show’s relevance, but that was me being cocky for some reason. It’s actually a perfect reflection of what Apple is doing. iOS is making all the money, but the Mac still has its devoted following, and both are doing fine.
That doesn’t mean Macworld / iWorld is in the clear, however. The date was moved twice this year from its standard January timeframe. It was originally announced for early February, but was then shifted to late March, I assume because IDG knew everyone wanted to stay home and watch my mighty Seahawks win the Super Bowl (note my prediction in the article linked above). Or, maybe they just want to throw me a birthday party on the 29th (I’d love a kayak, guys, or an official Seahawks football helmet). The location has shifted, too, although not to Texas, thank God. We’re now in the North Hall of Moscone, not West as it had been. And worse, plenty of vendors I spoke to last year who assured me they plan to attend in 2014, aren’t. Why? I hope to find out as I continue to write about the show leading up to March 27th.
But I currently count around 175 vendors, including stalwarts such as Blue Microphones, Moshi, and Parallels, as well as newer favorites like MacPhun, olloclip and Tru Protection. Even better, there are plenty of companies I don’t know, meaning there’ll be discoveries to be found. That’s what I’ve always loved most about Macworld Expo, and that remains, and that’s why Macworld / iWorld still matters.
Although the return of fake Lara Croft would make it matter a little more.