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Macworld Ended An Era With a Whimper, Not With a Bang

I've gone to many Macworld conferences, but rarely was I was bored as at Macworld 2009 in San Francisco. To be honest, the conference has outlived its usefulness. However, that is a statement about Macworld  not about the Mac. Like a booster rocket on a space shuttle, Macworld has done its job, and can be safely dropped.
I've gone to many Macworld conferences, but rarely was I was bored as at Macworld 2009 in San Francisco. To be honest, the conference has outlived its usefulness. However, that is a statement about Macworld  not about the Mac. Like a booster rocket on a space shuttle, Macworld has done its job, and can be safely dropped.Why does someone spend the time and money to attend a conference like Macworld? The biggest reason for many, of course, is to see what Apple is going to announce. Apple's announcements at this Macworld were disappointing: a 17-inch notebook for big spenders, and anticipated annual updates of its iLife and iWork application suites. Yawn.

The second-biggest reason, for many people, is to see new third-party support for Apple's computing and consumer-electronics products. I don't mean iPod skins or carrying bags, but new, innovative applications and clever new accessories that extend the usefulness of Apple's products.

If you were looking for innovation on the Macworld expo floor, you were disappointed. At least, I was looking for innovation, and I was disappointed. There are only so many iPod speakers, notebook backpacks, document scanners, external RAID drive enclosures and battery-powered USB hubs that one can appreciate. Especially since they look just like the ones I saw at Macworld 2008, Macworld 2007, and Macworld 2006. Oh, and Macworld 2005.

Yes, Hewlett-Packard was there showing off its new Mac-compatible home media server. Yes, Quark was showing off the current version of its Xpress layout software. Yes, there were several iPhone app developers hiding in the back. Yes, companies were showing off small-business accounting software. Yes, Canon was displaying digital SLR cameras. Yes, Skype showed off how to make Internet phone calls. Yes, Wi-Ex showed off its cell-phone signal boosters.

If you're already Mac-savvy, you already knew about most (or all) of the things at the show that enhance your business's productivity using Apple's technology. If you weren't Mac savvy, you could see most of the products there at an Apple store, at Best Buy, or by checking out any Mac product catalog.

The final reason to go to Macworld Expo is to hang out with fellow Apple fangirls and fanboys. Even a few years ago, when Macs were a niche product used only be smug enthusiasts, a Gathering of the Faithful was rare and appreciated. Today, Mac users are everywhere. You don't need to travel to San Francisco, or pay Macworld Expo an admittance fee, to hang out and share tips and techniques.

Macworld Expo is not a victim of Apple's ham-handedness. It's a victim of Apple's success. Every day, we can find Macworld Expo everywhere in our daily lives. Like that shuttle booster rocket, the conference served an important role in getting us to where we are today... and now it's time to drop it and not look back.

Editor's Choice
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer