|MacWorld Expo 2011 Show Coverage|
|News - Featured Website News|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Monday, 31 January 2011|
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MacWorld Expo 2011 Show Coverage
MacWorld Expo, the annual gathering of the Apple faithful, has been a regular event since the first San Francisco show in January, 1985. As a Mac programmer, I attended that show, and every one since then up through the early 2000s. After I transitioned to Java and Web development, the computer I used became less important, and the 2003 show was the last I attended until this year. The 27th annual MacWorld Expo was dramatically different from what I remembered.
Honey, I Shrank the Show
In its heyday, MacWorld Expo was so big that there were two per year: a winter/spring show in San Francisco and a late summer show in Boston. There was even MacWorld Tokyo starting in 1991, and MacWorld NYC in 1999. These shows were huge: I recall taking shuttle buses between the two venues in Boston in the late 1980s, and the San Francisco show quickly overflowed the original Moscone Center and had to spread to the new Moscone hall across the street. With hundreds of exhibitors, including big names like Apple, Adobe, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, as well as many of the small, independent shops that often had the most interesting products, MacWorld was a fascinating experience if you had the patience and stamina to push through the 100,000 or more people who typically attended. Nearby hotels were sold out months in advance and savvy attendees brought protein bars and bottled water, since nearby eateries would be swamped and the show food would be very expensive.
But several things happened, the most significant of which was the rise of the Internet. Suddenly, it was easy for companies to put complete information on their products online for anyone to find. I've worked for several companies that had MacWorld exhibits and know first-hand that attending a trade show is very expensive: there's travel and lodging for everyone attending, the costs of shipping all the booth hardware and equipment, and the cost of paying union workers to set it all up (at least in the 90s, you could literally not even set up your own computers and plug them in; your contract with IDG required you to use union labor). As it became harder to make an economic case for attending a trade show, many companies cut back drastically on their attendance.
The San Francisco-New York-Tokyo annual shows continued through 2003, after which the New York and Boston shows were cancelled by the show sponsor International Data Group (IDG). Apple continued exhibiting through 2009, although most of the other big exhibitors had dropped out earlier. My trip to the 2011 MacWorld Expo revealed a drastically shrunken show, with 230 claimed exhibitors (although counting the booths on the show map reveals fewer than 200) at a single, tiny hall at Moscone Center West. About 25,000 attendees are expected this year.
Whereas previous MacWorld Expos required days to see most exhibits, I was able to walk every aisle of the 2011 show in less than three hours.