Living in a Mac world

“It’s San Francisco,” said my friend. “Almost like Vegas, you see everything there.” He’s right, but unlike Nevada’s most famous metropolis, San Francisco has become home for the Macworld — and now “iWorld” — conference, which is apparently “The Ultimate iFan Event”. In light of that though, I can’t seem to find the appeal my first time attending the show.

After meeting up with some of the greatest developers at the event (MacPaw, Smile Software, AgileBits, and others) I quickly tired of the expo floor. It’s nice to see so many startups trying so hard, spending money to go to this event and taking the time to speak with users, but overall the floor is awfully stale. Many of the products are rehashes of great ideas by corporations and it seems like every single one of the exhibitors wants to make sure it has some sort of connection with “the cloud”.

It’s not wrong to chase innovation, but when everyone takes the same path the authenticity is lost. At this year’s Macworld, it’s easy to get the feeling that there are little to no innovators on the Moscone West’s three floors. When you walk through the crowd of exhibitors, you see a blur of the same thing: people trying really hard to believe in their product, whether their advocacy is convincing or not. Some of it is downright embarrassing.

As a coworker and friend said to me after we left today, “some people just don’t know what they’re talking about”. He interviewed a developer about an interesting product, but sadly the man simply didn’t sound like he knew what he was talking about — that was the CEO.

Perhaps there is a different kind of marketing at work here. Some have the belief that if they stand on the streets outside the conference center and, almost like a beggar, ask you if you want a free or discounted decal, they will become successful. Again, it is San Francisco, and you see everything. But this is something else; it’s a very strange addition to the technology scene. Are people really that desperate?

At the end of the day, Macworld/iWorld is much less than what I had hoped. Even the whole “Apple community” portion seems like a lie. Most of the time the people you want to meet up with actually live in San Francisco and accept your invitation to get coffee or chat over lunch. In those cases, there’s no need for the event. However, there’s always that time when they’re here from another country and Macworld does help bring people together in that sense. It’s nice to meet those kind of people in person and Macworld does give you that experience, but I still keep feeling that too many of the exhibitors are cheap, superfluous (HP, for instance), or even lacking self-confidence. I can’t help but feel sad.

I spoke with Apple journalist and owner of The Loop Jim Dalrymple while in Anaheim a few weeks back and he told me that he stopped attending Macworld when Apple left. He didn’t give a reason, but it’s easy to infer one. Even though I wasn’t there in the days of Apple, I can see how them leaving affected the event — a lot. A few of the staff at the event even remarked that it “used to be a lot bigger a few years ago when Apple was [there]“. “It’s very sad to see it slowly fade away,” said one. She remembers the days that the conference took up more than one of the Moscone centers. Now its attendance has declined and a lot has changed since the “good old days”. Macworld may never be the same. Then again, I won’t be there to find out.

January 31, 2013 at 11:24 pm

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