In San Francisco during February 9-13, 2010? Attend the Macworld Expo for free! (The Expo pass is a $25 value. Offer expires August 30, 2009.)
2010 will be the first year in which Apple, Inc. itself is not officially a part of Macworld Conference and Expo. This comes after a noticeable slowdown after last year’s Macworld, during which Steve Jobs was conspicuously absent due to serious illness, and Apple marketer Phil Schiller adequately — but unglamorously — filled in as keynote presenter. It’s up to David Pogue, tech pundit and pianist beloved and admired by much of the Apple community, to step in for next year’s keynote — (Pogue calls it the "The Anti-Keynote") — which, if nothing else, will probably be entertaining for geeks and music lovers.
At the Macworld Town Hall meeting last year, IDG World Expo vice president and general manager Paul Kent asked attendees what we’d ideally like to see in an Apple-free conference. I suggested making the event a little "scrappier" and more community oriented — following, at least in part, the "unconference" or BarCamp model of self-organizing with regard to user panels and discussions. Kent smiled and said he liked the word "scrappy," so hopefully I will have had a tiny bit of influence on Macworld 2010.
There’s been much conjecture among Macworld attendees and tech industry pundits as to whether Macworld is sustainable without Apple’s involvement. The fact is, it all depends on how well the event is organized and how much interest there is among Mac enthusiasts and sponsors — which no one will know until the event itself. At a small group gathering at last year’s Macworld, Ilene Hoffman opined that the Mac user group population is aging, simply because young people are no longer inclined to join user groups. A computer has become like a phone or TV or stereo; almost everyone in the industrialized world knows how to use one.
So, if the historical driving forces behind Macworld are absent on the one hand (Apple, and perhaps some key exhibitors or sponsors) and increasingly irrelevant on the other (user groups), what’s the draw?
What I’ve liked about Macworld has been only peripherally about Apple; the gathering is a focused industry conference that showcases technology for all kinds of purposes, many of which center around some type of creativity: music, video, photography, visual art, design, writing, programming, recreation, small business, travel, and education. If this aspect of the event — the general creativity — is enhanced, it’s possible that Macworld could be even more enjoyable for attendees. Kent himself remains optimistic, and I’m looking forward to seeing the results of his adept management.