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Macworld Attendees Have Recession On Their Minds

The Macworld Expo didn't offer a ton of new stuff on the exhibition floor this year -- neither in the form of products nor swag. Rather, among the manufacturers aiming for the businesses, there was discussion about what their audiences need -- and can afford.
The Macworld Expo didn't offer a ton of new stuff on the exhibition floor this year -- neither in the form of products nor swag. Rather, among the manufacturers aiming for the businesses, there was discussion about what their audiences need -- and can afford.Even the music area in the North Hall of San Francisco's Moscone Center seemed more subdued this year. With the Macworld Expo and Conference going on just after the holidays -- which saw abysmal sales -- and in the midst of a recession, expo attendees seemed less interested in flashy new products and more searching for ways to maximize their resources.

Booth after booth after booth featured unsurprising, nothing-new products. But the aisles were still filled with people talking, networking, and pondering the future. It's not enough for manufacturers to come out with an innovative product, T. Reid Lewis, president of Group Logic, told me -- in these tough economic times, companies like his have to show how their products can help businesses, particularly smaller businesses with smaller budgets.

Another theme that permeated around the expo was disaster, whether it be recovery or prevention. All hard drives fail eventually, declared Chris Bross during a demo at the DriveSavers booth. Sure enough, a show of hands proved that the majority of the audience had experienced data loss at some point. Hopefully, smaller companies will take heed of the warnings of eminent disaster, since recent studies show that while security spending will go up, business owners still aren't developing security policies.

Also in evidence at the Macworld Expo was the continuing popularity of mobility, whether among consumers or businesspeople. You couldn't swing a mouse by its cord on the show floor without hitting a booth selling skins, sleeves, or bags. But of interest to this attendee were all the applications for smartphones and battery extenders. Not that I want to hold a meeting on my iPhone, but with CallWave FUZE, I could.

As I left the expo floor with my yellow plastic Nikon bag loaded with brochures and press releases on CD -- yet not one piece of cool swag -- I wondered what next year will hold for the Macworld Expo, with no Apple in attendance. Will other constant exhibitors follow Apple's lead? Will trade shows die out -- or go virtual?

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