Macworld Expo is arguably the largest Mac convention in the country. For a few days in January of every year, some of the most enthusiastic fans convene at the Moscone Center in San Francisco to talk about the latest happenings on Apple’s Mac and iOS platforms. Throughout the conference there’s a buzz in the air about the latest Apple rumors and product announcements. Speakers also enrich the discussion with specialized insight and moderated sessions. On the show floor, companies from the Omni Group to Drobo all showcase their products and give the public the ability to see the faces behind the brands. These booths also introduce conference attendees to indie software, when they otherwise could be lost in the static.
Paul Kent is the current vice-president of the conference and he’s been doing similar events since the 1980′s. In the days before wireless, high-speed routers, when ethernet was just becoming a standard, the core of the conferences were centered around the rapidly changing state of Apple networking. Mr. Kent remarked that the idea encompassing everything was “computing for the rest of us, that really was kind of the vibe of Macworld”. In 2011 the twenty seventh year of Macworld, a lot has changed in the way of technology, but the goal has remained immutable. It still connects people worldwide that all read the same blogs, browse the same podcasts, and follow the same news. Meeting prominent people in the Mac community, as well as regular fans, is why I love the expo and why it has gained such momentum, with so many others.
I’ve attended Macworld for the past two years, starting the year after Apple stopped exhibiting. Even though the show floor was packed with visitors and exibitors, this year seemed a lot closer-knit than before. There was an equal amount of booth-terrain to cover, but it seemed like a gathering more indie-focused. Perhaps that’s because companies like Microsoft and Western Digital didn’t have a notable presence, but I think people have also realized that the show isn’t reliant on Apple anymore. I believe overall that’s a good thing. The intent of the conference has always been to connect Mac users and allow discussion. That’s what happens at Macworld – with or without the presence of Apple. While having the company did add a lot the event, the primary purpose has remained the same. And taking a little of the mass-market spotlight off the expo has helped open interest in new ideas and new products.
Going to the last day of the expo, it was clear that everyone was pretty tired from the week’s events. It even seemed that the booths were drooping from exhaustion. In spite of that, the events were still in rhythm and I had the opportunity to speak to many fellow attendees. In fact, while meandering around the expo floor, I glanced down at the badge of the person next to me and noticed that it was a developer from Rogue Amoeba. Rogue Amoeba is a semi-small software company that makes Audio Hijack Pro and Airfoil, among other audio software. I use Audio Hijack for my podcast episodes, and it’s exactly those connections that make Macworld so entertaining. Being able to meet people and say, “I use your product every day,” generates an sort of small-world feeling.
There is a certain vibrance to the event – the knowledge that you are surrounded by fellow fans and some of the most famous indie developers. As the Apple world constantly evolves, people continue to be enthused about the software and the community that has developed around the company. This sparks the thousands of people that attend Macworld every year. However, even though it only lasts for a couple of days, Macworld doesn’t end when the doors close. Throughout the year, Mr. Kent and the expo staff participates in addressing “designs and negotiations to try to make the show better … and more streamlined for attendees”. Through the changes in the Mac universe, Macworld will continue to be a place filled with dialogue and the software that makes the Apple ecosystem so unique.