SAI Contributor David Parmet runs Marketing Begins At Home, a Westchester-based marketing and pr consultancy.
Be honest. Is there really any difference between the National Association of Pipe Fitters Annual Conference and Exhibition … and CES?
A trade show is a trade show: A cavernous hall filled with nervous guys in company logo polo shirts handing out company logo stress balls to other nervous guys in company logo polo shirts.
But for the true Mac believers there is Macworld. If you are among the Apple (AAPL) faithful (and I’ve been one since I got my first Powerbook in 1994), the yearly trek to Moscone is the Haj. You can’t question it, you just have to do it. Professional and family obligations be damned.
This was my third Macworld. Each one has its own vibe; its own unique quality: Are we going to get something bright shiny and new from Steve or are we going to return home saddened, our wallets unopened and our hearts broken?
Last year it was all about the iPhone. First the giddy anticipation and then, when it was revealed, the let down when we learned we would have to wait six months to get that hot little toy in our hands. But we were still in awe, as you can probably tell if you’ve seen any of the pictures from last year: Fanboys and girls with their faces pressed up against the lucite barrier protecting the two iPhones on the show floor. Remember the apes and the obelisk from “2001”? Well you have the idea.
So we approached this year with some nervous anxiety. Would Steve be able to top the iPhone? Would we be let down if our socks were knocked right off of our feet? Would we be satisfied with some upgrades, maintenance releases and line extensions?
It shouldn’t matter. Macworld isn’t just about the bright shiny toys Steve dangles in front of us. Its really about celebrating Mac culture and the Mac community. Its a place for us to share our Windows jokes and feel smug and superior to that guy in IT who insists on upgrading you to Vista.
And we can all be forgiven for feeling a bit let down this year. Last year we got the JesusPhone. This year we got some upgrades, movie rentals, a storage device and a new laptop. Big deal you say. But look past the hype, see the forest for the trees, and you’ll notice some interesting things are happening.
For one thing, those plastic discs we put music and movies on are about to go the way of 8-track. The MacBook Air doesn’t have an optical drive and you don’t even need one. And if you want a movie you can buy or rent it right from the comfort of your couch on your AppleTV.
Blu-Ray vs HD DVD? Who cares? A quick allusion to the format wars from the head of 20th Century Fox was met with a yawn. Steve is trying to render the argument moot. Who cares about the format of the disc if I’m only buying digital bits?
In a few years we’ll all be accustomed to being able to move a movie or TV show from one device to another with the click of a mouse or the wipe of a finger across a track pad. And we’ll find it odd that at one time we couldn’t rent movies on our TV while lying in bed and then watch them on our phone if we fell asleep before the end.
Sure you might say, we can already do that with a toolbox full of Handbrakes and Toast. But what Steve did on Tuesday was bring media fungibility to the masses. Now even your mother in law can do that.
As far as the aforementioned ‘culture,’ there were the usual assortments of parties and bacchanals. On Tuesday night the annual Macworld Blast party featured a reved-up DEVO. Most of the audience, expecting the band they remember as the one-hit-wonders from the 80s were surprised to find these guys can really rock out. Afterwards I told everyone I spoke with to immediately download “Duty Now for the Future” and get back to me when they were done. Oh, and a guy from Microsoft in a DEVO power helmet introduced Office:Mac 2008.
Wednesday night was the annual Cirque Du Mac at the Red Devil Lounge. Entertainment was provided by the Macworld All Star Band, featuring a bunch of tech journalists who played in high school. They were good, or goog enough: The beer was flowing and by the end of the night no one seemed to care about networking and doing deals. BackBeat Media (my client) and an assortment of sponsors picked up the generous tab.
Thursday’s big event was a panel on podcasting hosted at Jillian’s restaurant at the Metreon featuring A-list Mac podcasters Leo Laporte and Dave Hamilton (another one of my clients), among others. The conversation ranged from what numbers to give advertisers to the political implications of the word “podcaster.” Most of the audience members were probably more interested in what microphone to buy and how to use Garage Band to mix their podcasts.
The show floor was packed with the usual assortments of goodies. You can read about any of the new products introduced at any of the Mac fan sites. I’ll just add that the Microsoft Bloggers’ Lounge had neither WiFi or power outlets, rendering it useless for anyone who actually needed to use it.
Next year let’s get some more power strips in the Media centre (please IDG, pretty please…). And let’s add a field trip to the morgue better known as the SONY Style centre at the Metreon, so we can see how the other half lives.
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