Macworld Boston 2004: Brains Over Beauty
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A Few Innovative Goodies
Speaking of brains, the Geeks & Gadgets presentations in the back corner of the Expo Hall were terrific. I strolled by this area a number of times to enjoy them with big audiences who appreciated the comfortable chairs and entertaining talks.
My favorite on Tuesday was Andy Ihnatko's Mac Aquarium session. Any man willing to hacksaw an original Mac on stage in front of masses of people wins my vote. And I wasn't the only one having a good time. I could tell that the audience was there with him every quip of the way.
The Geeks & Gadgets presentations on the Expo floor were a big hit with attendees.
I also thought the wireless coverage (WiFi) was as good as I've experienced at a Macworld. Of course, we had fewer people pounding the network. But for once I could actually get an IP address and load pages. Macworld featured Wi-Fi in all of the common areas and in the classrooms. Nice touch.
Finally, it's a small thing, but I really like the new design of the conference Show Guide. Instead of the typical unwieldy letter-size booklet that never fits anywhere, this year's guide is half the size and fits nicely in my back jeans pocket. Other conferences, please take note. This is a good idea.
When it's all said and done, I think it's important to have a big Mac show on the East Coast. I'm leery of Apple becoming too West Coast centric. Macworld San Francisco and Apple's World Wide Developers Conference are terrific events that I enjoy tremendously.
But not everyone has the luxury of traveling across the continent to attend a major Mac event. Boston is a good location for the East Coast show. The cabbies are more friendly than in New York City, the restaurants are more reasonable, rooms are more available, and you can stroll through downtown without clutching to all of your belongings for their dear life.
In addition to friendly cabbies and great seafood, Boston is the cradle of much American history, such as Faneuil Hall.
Don't get me wrong: I love NY. Nothing like it in the world. What I'm saying is that Macworld doesn't have to be in NYC to be legitimate. I think most of the folks visiting Boston would agree that this is a premier U.S. locale. I really can't say enough good things about this city. Take an afternoon off and walk the Freedom Trail. Stop in an old pub originally built in the 1800s for a beer. Step inside Faneuil Hall where Sam Adams decried the Stamp Act in the late 1700s. This place is an American treasure.
I also thing we should give the East Coast show a chance to redefine itself. Sure, it's not the same old Macworld. But what remains static in the world of technology? If this show fails to find its new voice after a few attempts, well, then maybe it would be time for someone else to step up to the plate and give it a try.
But right now, we're having this discussion after only the third day in a new location without Apple's apron strings to hold on to. Let's see what happens. I think it's only fair to give Macworld Boston some time to find its path.
In the end, Macworld Boston will need to find its own path. If history is an indication, the Mac community will most likely hold steady during this transition.
Oh, and just one more thing. I'm not so interested in what went on between IDG World Expo and Apple Computer that led to Apple not participating in this show. Just like I don't really care why the hostess wants to sit me at a crummy table in the middle of the room when a perfectly nice seat is available by the window.
At this moment in personal computing history, I don't think Apple has the luxury of not tending to a major customer base here in the U.S., or anywhere else. If market share were 10 percent and growing, well, maybe. But it's 3 percent and shrinking. Maybe next year Apple will consider staffing a booth on the expo floor. I think it'd be a nice addition to the show.
As for this year... I rate this show "G"--for gutty performance. And that includes the attendees and vendors as well.