I recently learned of Apple’s decision to make Macworld 2009 its last. While this news is somewhat sad to hear, it’s hardly unexpected; Apple has been steadily eliminating many similar events, including Apple Expo, Macworld Tokyo, and Macworld Boston, for several years now. And while this turn of events may be difficult for many Mac fanatics to swallow (perhaps even harder for the third parties who convene there to sell Mac-focused goods and services) it’s really not bad news, and the move actually makes a lot of sense on Apple’s part.
For a decade, Apple has been throwing this party: a Mac-specific event designed to rally the troops, getting the faithful together and spreading the word about what they’re putting on store shelves next. It is a truly grand event, and in years past, it’s been well worth the massive expenditure required to make it happen. But things are different now. Apple no longer needs to hold their own party to get people to pay attention; what tech-savvy individual doesn’t know when a new iPod comes out these days? Or when Mac OS X gets a major update? Apple has earned the coverage in major publications — and even in the mainstream media — necessary to keep the masses informed about the big announcements.
But not every Apple product is Mac OS X, iPhone, or iPod. What about updates to their computers, or other hardware such as displays, Apple TV, or Airport? How will those less-prominent products gain exposure? The answer is simple: they will do it at the same conventions, electronics shows, and expositions where every other manufacturer does it. After years of (undeserved) obscurity, Apple has finally earned the right to sit at the same table as the likes of HP, Intel, Microsoft, and Dell; so it only stands to reason that they be a major player at the same established events to show off their new offerings.
By abandoning their solo show and attending the big industry events, Apple doesn’t have to shoulder the expense of the logistics associated with a major convention (building, staff, food, networking, etc) and they can focus their resources solely on their own booth, which will be much more grand as a result. The best part is that Apples presence at the show, and the shiny new products announced therein, can be directly compared and contrasted with those of their competitors’. The Apple advantage will become all the more clear to the consumer, and Apple will need to be all the more focused on maintaining their lead in the marketplace.
On a final note, if you still want to attend an Apple-cultural event, I would recommend you think about downloading the free Xcode developer tools, learning about Cocoa, and writing your own Mac OS X or iPhone application. Then, attend Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, where you can experience the same familial atmosphere which can only be created by a bunch of extreme Mac-heads learning about new Apple technologies. While MacWorld’s time has passed, I can’t imagine that WWDC (which has enjoyed explosive growth over the past two years) would be going away any time soon.