Let’s make no mistake: No Stevenote and no Apple means that this is the last Macworld Expo. Ever.
Because while the Mac market share may be growing, the reason that people go to Macworld is to be a part of the group that heard Steve announce the next Insanely Great Product, to get their hands on them first (even if they couldn’t buy them for month), and—until Apple’s recent runaway success with the iPod—to take part in the group hallucination that was the Cult of Mac.
We might have known when Adobe decided not to exhibit this year (no doubt tipped off by Apple), and Belkin, one of the biggest makers of Mac-compatible accessories, dropped out as well, citing “economic concerns.”
The reasoning is sound, of course, from Apple’s perspective: now that they’re on top, they can announce their products whenever they like and the press will come running. There’s no more pressure to always have something ready by the first week of January. And since they can control when they release the information, it also means that they can control how the information is released: Apple is notoriously secretive about their products, and Jobs is rumored to have punished several companies that let the cat out of the bag before he got to parade them out in front of everyone in a Stevenote. Certainly Apple has rigorously sued to smoke out anonymous “worker bees” who have leaked product info to rumor sites. So, there’s another plus in Apple’s column.
But from the perspective of a Mac user, it stinks on ice. I won’t go on a rant about how Apple is killing the Mac community, or turning it back on the loyal fans, but its hard not to feel discouraged that from now on, there will be no yearly (formerly twice a year) journey to take part in the Hive Mind, where you were surrounded by people who understood how great Macs are. Apple is closing the book on an iconic event, and perhaps that’s the real reason: the iconic imagery of Steve Jobs on stage, announcing “One More Thing.” Regardless of recent speculation over Steve’s health, he can’t go on forever, and in their quest to become a Real Live Company, perhaps they feel that when he is gone, it’s best that his image doesn’t feel so “iconic.”
Does the end of Macworld matter? If I’m being pragmatic, no. I never bought a product the day it was announced, never ran from a keynote to the Apple booth (or now, the Apple Store) to be an early adopter. Apple owns the digital music business and is quickly conquering the smartphone market. Laptops are selling like hotcakes. If they’d announced this ten years ago (pulling out of both Macworld Expos) it would have been just another of the endless nails in Apple’s beleaguered coffin. But now, Apple is the darling of the computer industry. But with the closing of this book, it’s starting to feel like the company doesn’t belong to “Us” anymore.
It never did, of course, we just wanted to think so.