Macworld Boston: Another One Bites the Dust

by Derrick Story

Back in early August I wrote about The Shrinking Mac Conference Landscape where I discussed the difficulties many Mac events were having, and the irony of this situation in light of Apple's success.

One of the shows I mentioned, Macworld Boston, was just listed as another fatality by MacCentral. With the previous closing of ADHOC, this leaves most of the surviving Mac conference activity on the West Coast.

We're left with WWDC, Macworld San Francisco, the Geek Cruises, a handful of developer gatherings, and a few big user group events -- yet no major Mac show (to my knowledge) on the East Coast.

I'm sad to see Macworld East (Boston or NYC) close its doors. With Apple Stores flourishing and online Mac sites popping up by the dozens, maybe we don't need conferences. But I have to say, the experiences I have had at these shows are different than those in Apple Stores or in front of my computer. Something about this just doesn't sit right with me.


2005-09-16 16:23:43
Too many?
I agree it's sad to see conferences disappear. For one, I really miss the giant extravanganza of Comdex.

But I also question how many conferences are practical. I love the O'Reilly Conferences, but let's face it: my boss isn't going to pay me to go to OSCON, ETech and the OS/X conference plus the new ETel conf. That's four weeks out of the year right there just for O'Reilly conferences!

That doesn't include LinuxWorld, DefCon, Networld, UseNix, ISPCON or any of the other conferences I've gone to over the years.


2005-09-16 17:05:11
While the conference disappearances are disconcerting at first glance, I wonder if the expansion of all the information available on the Web the last 10 years doesn't have something to do with it. Why fly a bunch of miles, spend a bunch of money, to attend workshops, the bulk of which are available on equivalent websites? Not to mention the instant communication around now that reduces the value of those face-to-face meetings that were so important back in the day.

That said, I think there might be ways for conferences to counteract this effect -- they just have to figure out what they can add or change that isn't easier done online.

2005-09-16 20:03:10
Re: WWW vs IRL
I'm sure the web has much to do with this situation. And as effective as the web is (I love many aspects on online information), it's not a complete replacement for human interaction. Conferences show us different facets of the world in which we work and play.

And we still have lots of good technology conferences to choose from :) That's the good news. But the rapid thinning out of Mac events makes me wonder if this isn't a symptom of something other than more online information available.

2005-09-16 20:47:25
Thanks for the news
It's sad to see Macworld in Boston cancelled. I'm not surprised. Ever since it left Boston in 1997, it just hasn't been the same. The conference this year and last year were at best, lackluster, and very low-key. LinuxWorld in Boston on the other hand was a hit back in February.
2005-09-19 06:05:23
Re: WWW vs IRL
I don't think there is any magic here. The profit margin on the shows is RAZOR thin. I don't think IDG was willing (or able) to put the kind of dollars they needed to into making the show a success. I think you are seeing the results of shrinking corporate budgets more than anything else. Companies aren't sending people to conferences like they used too (I think this is very unfortunate). I am lucky if I can get to 1 or 2 a year and Macworld isn't one of them.
2005-09-19 08:36:08
MacWorld Boston's demise
I attended each of the MWNY Expo events: it was easy for me, because I live in NYC. The first one was great, the second one was good, but every one after that was a progressively bigger disappointment. It became the incredible shrinking tradeshow and it was an embarrassment for the platform. Only a couple of major vendors were showing up for it at the end.

The move back to Boston probably just provided Apple with a convenient excuse to pull the plug on this sorry spectacle. Better than saying bluntly they weren't going to waste time and money to appear at a Mac event that had already shrivelled to insignificance a couple of years previously.

2005-09-19 21:37:39
Anyone remember what ended in 1997
I was at the Expo in Boston in 1997 and one thing that was never duplicated in the years that followed was the sense that it wasn't all about Apple. There was Power Computing literally doing whatever they could to be the loudest place on the floor and a sense of energy that quietly went away when Apple became the center of the universe at the east coast shows. Not that I think that pulling Power's license was the wrong move (I'll letter others debate that decision) but it was when the expo seemed to start the downward spiral.

Then for whatever reason, as we used to say on the playground, Steve took his bat and ball and went home to west coast. Sure, the Apple stores are great and I love having them, but in its day a good expo in Boston or even the first ones in New York, were the place to see the Mac faithful and what we would be talking about for the six months to come.

Miss them I do.

2005-09-19 22:50:44
Jobs Best Demo Ever
Some of the posters are citing good/bad moments at Macworld East. I think one of Steve Jobs best demos ever was when he introduced the iBook at Macworld NY in 1999. As Lisa M. Bowman reported for ZDNet :

"Jobs used the hula hoop to introduce the company's iBook consumer portable, running it through the hoop to show that it was indeed wirelessly connected to the Internet. With the iBook, Jobs, Apple's seemingly permanent interim CEO, jumped through a daunting business hoop of his own. He needed one year to create products in four quadrants (professional and consumer desktops and portables) and just two years to make Apple a comeback king, a feat perhaps unduplicated in tech history."

Tell me this wasn't a good NY moment...

As a bit of a side note, there's an interesting Phil Schiller quote later in the article:

"We can't be arrogant again," Schiller said. "We need to keep setting high goals. We have to keep the pedal to the metal."

Well Phil, two out of three ain't bad...