MACWORLD San Francisco:
Past, Present, and Future
Originally posted February 11th, 2010, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
Attending MacWorld Expo in San Francisco used to be an annual pilgrimage for me. A few years ago I stopped attending. There are several factors that contributed to my loss of enthusiasm.
1. Apple decided to make product intros whenever they were ready -- not necessarily to coincide with an expo.
2. Many key companies sent me press releases with detailed descriptions of products they planned to feature at the expo. In other words, I didn't need to go to get the info.
3. The Apple Retail Stores brought the expo experience to the consumer. As Steve Jobs pointed out, in 2009, an average of 979,000 people visited the retail stores each week. That's 20 times as many as visit the MacWorld Expo in a week.
4. When I totalled up the expense of an airline ticket, hotel stay, ground transportation, and restaurant meals, I realized it was often enough to either buy a new Mac (or two iPads) or make a big down payment toward a Mac Pro.
Great minds think the same thoughts. Last year Apple announced they would no longer participate in the MacWorld Expo.
I do have great memories of past MacWorld Expos. It was especially nice when I had a media badge. I had a seat at the keynote. There was a special media lounge with free eats, comfy seating, and a WiFi connection. I received the VIP treatment at each booth I visited. I enjoyed face time with the movers and shakers of the industry. Many companies sent me home with great swag and promises of review units.
Originally I stayed at the Reuben Hotel (later renamed to the Maxwell but now known as Hotel Frank). It was a small, older hotel but the rooms were generous in size and prices were reasonable. However, I tired of the six block gamut through panhandlers, so in later years, I switched to the "W" across the street from the Moscone Center. Its best feature? It had an indoor heated lap pool with jacuzzi. Great therapy after a hard day on the floor of the Expo.
Then there were the rituals. Breakfast at the Pinecrest 24 hour Diner. Dinner at the Scalas Bistro. One year, I was invited to a party hosted by Apple in the "upper rooms" of the Moscone Convention Center. Each room featured a different kind of food and drink. Likely at the request of Steve Jobs, the main room was strictly vegan fare. As a vegan and Mac user, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
Fast forward to this week's MacWorld Expo in San Francisco. Is it worth attending? Looking at the list of exhibitors, some key companies are missing. Besides Apple, there's no Adobe, no NVIDIA, and no ATI/AMD. There are companies listed that I do know and respect including Atlona, Areca, Cisco, Dr. Bott, IBM, MacTech, Microsoft, Monster, Other World Computing, SMART Technologies, VMware, Western Digital, and Xerox. But most of the companies listed as exhibitors I've never heard of. One CEO confessed to me privately that the Expo flunks the cost/benefit test.
Then again, new or little known companies may feel it's their best shot for getting noticed by consumers and the media. For example, I bumped into an engineer at one Expo that was getting ready to form her own company. She succeeded and now FirmTek is one of my favorite sources of SATA enclosures and host adapters. So whether you are a blogger or writer or editor, your attendance at the MacWorld Expo could make or break a struggling new company. I say go with my blessing. And then email me your list of five most interesting products. I'll include them in my MacWorld Expo "afterglow."
Let me get our party started with the mention of few interesting products.
Other World Computing (Booth 1354) -- They recently started shipping a enterprise quality Solid State Drive, the OWC Mercury Extreme. Read the write-up by Lloyd Chambers. You can actually purchase that product and many others at their Expo booth.
Stardom (no booth) -- Want to add storage to your Apple Time Capsule? Check out the Safe Capsule.
MacNews.com -- It's a new website by the folks who brought you MacTech magazine. Speaking of MacTech, check out their lab report comparing Parallels Desktop to VM Fusion.
It should go without saying that the iPad has been the biggest news from Apple lately. Be sure to read our critique of it. As of this writing, you can't order it but you can order Aperture 3 this week.
I will be curious to see if the MacWorld Expo in San Francisco survives. Whether it does or not, we promise to report on any companies -- big or small -- that offer innovative technology products.