Macworld Expo a Hit Even Without Apple

 

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There was a funny thing about this year’s Macworld Expo that made it quite a bit different from years past.  For the first time, Apple announced that it would not be attending the Expo and Apple CEO Steve Jobs would not be giving the keynote speech.  Despite the fact that the very company that the trade show centers around didn’t attend, many around the industry are calling the Expo a huge success.

Speculation before the event was that the Macworld Expo would be an unmitigated disaster without Apple in attendance.  Strangely enough, by all media accounts, this year’s Macworld Expo was better than ever.  The event is unique because, unlike most other trade shows, the event isn’t invite-only.  Typically, only retailers, distributors, and manufacturers are allowed to attend or present.  With the Macworld Expo, everyday people who have a love of all things Apple are allowed to enter.

Without Apple in attendance, it seemed that the conference opened up aspects of the industry that wouldn’t have been discussed if the company had been in attendance.  For example, an Apple-critical presentation was given that reportedly pointed out strategic weaknesses of the company that many stockholders feel need fixing.

The MacObserver reporter in attendance wrote that every exhibitor he spoke with said they were happy with the traffic their booth was getting, with many saying it was on par with previous Expos.  In addition, everyone said they would be coming back next year.  The general feel of the Expo was of a “Day 2” tone, where the excitement of the keynote speech had faded and it was time to check out all of the cool new Apple products.

In 2002, Jobs introduced the “desk lamp” G4 iMac and, in 2007 at this same show, Jobs unveiled the iPhone.  Apple’s traditional exhibit area typically occupied two halls of the San Francisco Moscone Center.  Apple had fair reasons not to attend the event, since Apple stores in malls across the United States provide a direct way to connect with end users.  However, Apple’s notable absence led to a rise in smaller exhibitors, which introduced new and exciting products that otherwise would have been lost in the glitz and glamour of Apple’s large shadow.

By all reports, a lot of interest was generated by the Mobile Applications section, where dozens of iPhone and iPod Touch application and accessory companies showed off their latest creations.  There were actually no booths in this area, but rather shared round tables.  Some companies, like Microsoft, made surprise appearances, showing off parts of its new Office for Mac and IBM showing off its new Lotus division and Mac enterprise software.

Fujitsu appeared with a new portable scanner that lets you scan right to a MindTouch, while Omni intends to bring a diagramming application to the iPad.  The newest Apple device, the iPad, received attention at the Expo, mainly in the form of a special panel discussion that drew enough to fill the hall’s largest auditorium.  While there was plenty of discussion about it, there was no iPad on display at the show.

Tidbits.com did a great recap of cool new products shown at the Expo, which included:

U-Socket – A new AC jack for your wall that includes two regular plugs and two USB ports that will let you plug in your mobile devices for charging.  Estimated cost is $19.95.

Trexta iPhone Case – A fully customizable iPhone case that you can make yourself.

Microvision ShowWX Laser Pico Projector – A device about the size of an iPhone capable of projecting high-resolution video as large as a 100-inch television set.  There are a number of connectivity options, including an iPhone/iPod cable, and it will run for 90 to 120 minutes on battery.  This device will be released in March.

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