Apple leaving Macworld Expo was the beginning of the end. The show struggled for a couple of years after this, and 2014 would be the last year of the trade show.
Trade shows have not died but they are vastly different than they were a decade ago. Somehow, CES Continues because humans still demand feeling something tangible. These days, people experience iPhone cases at Apple Stores versus Macworld but Apple is the gate-keeper for the planogram of their stores. Macworld was a chance for everyone with $10,000 to put their product in front of 50,000 people. That and the awesome conference tracks. Apple was right to leave Macworld but I wonder if we’d still have Macworld if Apple continued to be involved?
I was at the 2009 Macworld where Apple actually announced this being their last expo a month before the event summarized here by Techcrunch but the page on Apple.com is long gone ( I don’t remember Apple deleting newsroom pages before). Apple didn’t lose anything by leaving Macworld. In fact, the reasons they gave are still valid today. They hold events when products are ready and Macworld (SF, Boston, NY, Apple Expo Paris, Tokyo, NAB and other shows) forced them to rush products or pre-announce them. They can have an event on their own time now. The parent company IDG World Expo of Macworld / iWorld lives on and links to http://www.macworldiworld.com which is a dead site.
I semi-famously ran MacworldBound.com back in the day and hosted events, meetups and party lists along with planning tips for people coming to the show. A trade show in SF wasn’t unique but a lot of Mac users saw MWSF as a pilgrimage and a chance to go to Cupertino so people who didn’t traditionally go to trade shows were coming and I saw a niche to fill. I actually remember Ilene from Hess’s partylist getting annoyed with me for having my own partylist because she sold ads on that page and made good money. I wasn’t in it for the money but she and I were partylist competitors (lol). I was ridiculed for my Macworld fanboy ways many times but I really enjoyed being the middle-man for Mac Geeks. My goodbye post summarizes that ideology that drove me to create the site.
My approach to all of this had more to do with the community of amazing people and less to do with growing the Macintosh community for my personal profit. I’ve spent thousands of dollars going to Macworld and never recouping the costs. I’ve spent nearly 4 grand each year on Macworld events, parties and meetups and I even quit a job because they wouldn’t let me go. The reason for all of this was that I wanted to show people the lesson of giving without expecting anything in return because that commitment to our small community is what kept it going all of these years. Apple never endorsed it and since Mac OS X, The Intel Switch, The iPod and now, The iPhone, the community we’ve known and loved has gotten larger but has changed to a decentralized collective that are so separated between long time Mac users (15+ Years), OS X Mac Switchers 6+ Years), iPod Switchers (3+ Year) and iPhone Switcher (6+ months). Anyone that’s been around less than 10 years has no clue there’s a Mac community and they don’t see the relevance of Macworld Expo. Everything is online now and they don’t see a point in going.
Macworld is what got me comfortable with the idea of moving to San Francisco and really enabled my career and where I am today. Macworld got me my first job at Apple from people I met. It enabled me to partner with Justin.TV and stream live from MWSF and meet the people from LaughingSquid and so on. I owe where I am today to the expo but more importantly, the people who attended.