I'm writing this from my desk back at MacSparky headquarters having returned from another Macworld/iWorld conference and exposition. It seems to me the post-Apple transformation is complete.
When I first attended Macworld, it took up multiple halls and was a frantic, glorious, nerd-zoo. It took several days to walk all of the show floors and finding the gems between the iPod case manufacturers (Yes, I said iPod.) was like a geeky treasure hunt. (That is how I originally found 1Password when they had a very tiny stand hidden behind Apple's omni-presence.)
Then Apple left.
For the first few years after that, the show organizers had their work cut out for them convincing other large companies to stick with the show in light of Apple's departure and getting people to attend against a perception that the show was finished. I think they did a remarkable job in those first few years in just keeping the show going.
Over a period of time, however, Macworld didn't just survive. Macworld/iWorld found its groove.
Rather than focussing on Apple and its latest whizzy announcement, Macworld/iWorld has turned on itself focussing on attendees and users instead. There were numerous exhibits throughout Moscone showing off artwork created using Apple technologies.There was a constant stream of people playing music and creating. People stopped me in the hallway to ask about creating children's books. Users were playing drums and dancing. Macworld became a celebration of creative iFans.
The show is definitely more intimate. The exhibitors fill one hall now instead of two but there is even an upside to that . The exhibitor signal to noise ration has improved. Where you used to have to wade through 7 plastic case manufacturers to find one interesting product, that is no longer (excuse the pun) the case. Moreover, a lot of the case manufacturers that were present had interesting cases. (One included a bottle opener and had an app to keep track of exactly how many Heinekens you'd opened. I was so tempted to buy one of those and mail it off to Jim Dalrymple.) Another benefit of the intimacy of the show floor is that it is even easier for users to get through to decision makers and the programmers that make the products they love. When it comes to expositions, certainly bigger is better. However, as an attendee, I really enjoyed myself on the show floor.
The Macworld/iWorld organizers also lowered the price of the iFan pass making it easier to get into the conferences. It is now much more reasonable to take classes from some really smart people and a few goofy ones. I couldn't believe I filled the room for my iBooks Author session. Moreover, the room had this kumbaya feel that made talking about iBooks Author an absolute joy.
And then there was the social piece. Making friends with complete strangers that share a love of all things Apple and catching up with old friends is an absolute joy. To all my friends (new and old) that I met with at Macworld, thank you for giving me an amazing experience.
I am thrilled with this new Macworld and hope it continues many years into the future. Speaking as someone who has a day job, I find my yearly pilgrimage to Moscone Center absolutely necessary for my sanity. My thanks and gratitude go to Paul Kent, Kathy Moran, and everyone else at IDG for making it happen.
Below are several more pictures from Day 3 at Macworld.