Macworld | iWorld 2012

Another Macworld has come and gone. More correctly, the first Macworld | iWorld has come and gone and now it’s time to sit back, reflect, and process our feelings.

I make the point that this as the first Macworld | iWorld because that is actually important. A lot of the commentary, both positive and negative, has underestimated the impact of that fact. While it has a rich history in the form of Macworld Conference & Expo, the radical shifts in the technology market in recent years have necessitated that Macworld | iWorld forge new ground.

The first, and most obvious change is the name itself. I know that many people in the Apple blogosphere dislike the name. The truth is that I’m not certain how I feel about the name. What I do know is this, with more than half of Apple’s revenue being generated by non-Mac devices, expecting the show to remain simply “Macworld” is foolish. Like it or not, iOS is part of the Apple ecosphere now and ignoring it is a recipe for disaster. A the same time, abandoning the Macworld name is also a non starter. I don’t envy the folks at IDG the challenge of coming up with a name that properly encompasses the evolving nature of the community. I know that I couldn’t have done any better.

The second major change this year was separating the former MacIT “track” into essentially its own conference, MacIT. I didn’t really pay much attention to the MacIT portion of the conference as the material is generally irrelevant to my work but the presenters and vendors that I did speak with seemed to be in agreement that moving the more IT focused products off the main Expo floor allowed them to focus on their enterprise customers instead of having to repeatedly explain to confused customers what their products are for.

On the “user conference” side of the house, the major changes were the addition of a Midway featuring music and art exhibitions and the changes in pricing for the Tech Talks.

The Midway was a fun, and very welcome addition to the show. The “user” portion of past shows has consisted basically of roaming the show floor and the formal conference presentations. The Midway was a pleasant way to sample some of the amazing things being done in the visual and musical arts using Mac and iOS devices without someone hawking a product at you or sitting through a 90 minute lecture.

Likewise, the changes in pricing for the Tech Talks was extremely welcome. At past shows, the User Conference content could run as much as $300 for the full conference or $100 for a single day. This year access to all the Tech Talk content was available for a mere $125 dollars, with even more in-depth training available for an additional fee. The Tech Talks that I attended were of the same high quality as presentations that I’ve seen at Macworld in years past.

There has been much noise this year over attendance figures for the show. IDG will release numbers today which will do exactly fuck-all to change anyone’s opinion. Those that have clambered aboard the Macworld is doomed bandwagon will either view the numbers as proof of their assertions or as unreliable and to be dismissed. All I know is that every time I toured the floor, from the opening minutes on Thursday to the end of the day on Saturday the floor traffic was consistently steady. Also, the vendors I spoke with were all very pleased with the amount of traffic they were getting at their booths.

In the end, my position hasn’t changed since I first wrote about this before attending my first expo three years ago. IDG is not a charity. If and when the day comes that IDG is no longer making money from the show the show will be canceled. People attempting to expose IDG’s deep dark secret of flagging attendance numbers are more pointless than a fucking sphere.

All that said, was Macworld | iWorld perfect? Of course not. To give an example that struck close to home, the inclusion of podcasts in the general Tech Talks curricula and locating us in the same presentation rooms tended to suck the energy out of the shows. This is something that a few of us have brought up with IDG and are working on improving for next year.

The bottom line is this: in my opinion IDG did a wonderful job with Macworld | iWorld, but there is always room for improvement. As I told Paul Kent, General Manager of Macworld, when we spoke on the crowded show floor Saturday afternoon; the first two years following Apple’s withdrawal from Macworld Expo were an inevitable transition period. This year it really felt as if Macworld | iWorld was hitting its stride and is poised for great things to come. I’m glad to be along for the ride.