Tech trade shows either evolve or go away. Apple abandoned its ownership and control of Macworld years ago, ceding it to the erstwhile trade publisher IDG. And IDG ran with it.
About 20K attendees showed up this year, with slightly more expected by the end of the show this Saturday. But return attendees are finding quite a different show on arrival. There’s art, music, dancing, mainstream and punk concerts, film screenings. IDG this year rebranded the show to be more like a World’s Fair — with a little Burning Man mixed in. It’s not an entirely natural mix. But it’s working. All in all, the show’s running like a top.
This week attendees can rove the exhibit hall as they always have — or check out movie screenings, media mashups, and iPhone film festival, a South Part Art Gallery — and even participate (this should be interesting) in what execs call a “tribal drum circle” to close on Saturday. And then there’s the so-called Frisco Disco. You can dance silently with wireless headsets as a Mac DJ beams dancing music at you. Okay.
“It’s really about people celebrating their enjoyment of Apple products — it’s really the ultimate iFan event,” IDG’s Paul Kent tells Leander Kahney in a CultofMac interview. And the show, in its reinvention, is really targeting consumers and fans — even including a Saturday and cutting prices so folks whose bosses won’t pay for the trip will be willing to go.
Though our Josh Windisch wishes the reinvention were a bit more complete — HP booths in the same building with events called things like “Super ART fight” are a bit awkward — IDG is totally going in the right direction. This show is 28-years-old. It, like all brands, must evolve to survive. And it’s making a decent go at it. Not everything is ideal — some of the top apps, for instance, at the Top 25 Apple iPad 2 event were a bit stale — but all in all the show is pretty much a blast.
Making Macworld into a sort of World’s Fair, or a businessey Burning Man, is kind of a brilliant idea — a risky one that could’ve flopped or flown. So far so good. Our aNdDomwin edit and photo/vidoe team at Macworld | iWorld 2012 includes, from left: Michael Butler, Mike Rothman, Gina Smith, John C. Dvorak, Eddie DaLaroza, Rebekah Austin, Mac McCarthy, Josh Windisch and Julie Blaustein. NOT PICTURED: Phil Baker, David W. Martin.
John C. Dvorak looks awfully happy.