Date: Tuesday, April 1st, 2014, 09:01
Category: Apple, conference, Developer, iPhone, Mac, Software
Last week was a bit of a whirlwind as Macworld/iWorld took over a large portion of my week. Now that I’ve had some time to put together some of the things I saw, I thought I’d provide a brief recap. This year, the convention was held in Moscone Center’s North Hall. The first day, Thursday, was my traditional walk around the show floor which I always do on the first day so I can make some mental notes about what I want to go back and see later. This makes it easier to go straight to the important stuff when you only have about 45 minutes between talks and demos. There wasn’t much that was unique about the Expo Hall this year, except for possibly the two live stages (I only recall one in the past).
The rest was made up of some of the familiar booths of the likes of Scosche Industries, Drobo, The New York Times, Que Publishing, Canon, and Blue Microphones. Having a smaller presence this year, tucked into the smaller side-by-side booths, were Micromat, DriveSavers, and Adobe. And then there were the vendors that were not there at all such as Peachpit Press, Crashplan, IRIScan, mophie, and some other smaller product vendors I was accustomed to seeing. It would be interesting to find out if there were specific reasons for some of these changes or it was just a matter of timing. The Expo, occurring much later in the year than normal, may have had some affect on attendance. One product I was sure to see represented, but was a no-show, was Pebble. I thought for sure that with the release of the Pebble Steel earlier this year and their emphasis on tight integration with iOS 7’s notifications, they would have some kind of booth.
Finally, there was the now ubiquitous software developer section. Macworld once billed this area as the Mac OS X Zone and iOS Zone, but I saw no sign of such designation this year. Rather than traditional booths, these areas are populated by cylindrical kiosks that can accommodate one company/developer per side, with little more than a shelf for placing a Mac or iPad for demo purposes. This area was created as the result of a couple of factors. One, the economy was cutting tech budgets, but not conference booth fees. After 2009 when Apple dropped out of Macworld Expo, vendor attendance began to drop off to the point where the Expo Hall in 2010 and 2011 was beginning to look like a ghost town and could barely fill one hall, when previously it would take up the entirety of Moscone’s North and South Halls. Smaller spaces meant a lower priced option and the return of smaller vendors. Second, with the popularity of iOS came legions of solo start-up developers who would be hard pressed to rent an entire booth space. I suspect it also made it easier to fill out the hall with a larger variety of products. This year saw a number of new developers as well as some well-known ones who seem to have elected for the smaller, cheaper spaces such as AgileBits (makers of 1Password), Readdle, and BusyMac, the latter of which unveiled its new BusyContacts at the Expo, with a release to be expected this summer.
I could list a ton of products old, new, or improved that I saw, but that would be a bit crazy. Instead, I’ll be reviewing a handful of products I picked up over the next few days. Attendance was busy, but not as crowded as in years past when armies of business reps, consumers, and other professionals hauled their bags of t-shirts, baubles, samples, and demo disks throughout the show flow. The people are still there, but in fewer numbers, and the bags, while still present, are not laden down with goodies (if needed at all) except for some pens, info sheets, and purchased products. The Expo is still alive, and Paul Kent and his event people are doing their best to keep it that way, but I do long for the pre-2009 convention days.
What are your convention experiences and when do you think was the last great Mac Expo?