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Hot off the Press - News & Commentary
by Keith Benicek, Managing Editor

Mac(s)World Expo getting smaller by the day
July 31st, 2003

The Jacob Javits Convention Center was like an airport terminal two hours after that last plane of the day had left. Only a handful, by square foot, of people and vendor staff member milling around obviously bored. That is what it was like, or felt like for much of IDG Macworld Creativepro yada yada yada, whatever, 2003 New York. Can you imagine what nearly a couple million square feet of floor space is like with only 40,000 Mac loyalists spread out over five days?

The next east coast meeting of Mac disciples in 2004 will be in Boston and this is the last year for a Macworld in NY. At this rate it may well be the last east coast Macworld . . . period.

Certainly part of the blame for this decidedly lackluster showing is the feud between IDG Macworld and Apple, Steve Jobs in particular. Jobs is apparently PO’d that IDG wants to move the once extravaganza back up to Boston (where it used to be, last time 1996) without prior consultation with Jobs. Apple bailed from this years show and has no plans for forthcoming shows as well.

"Apple disagrees with this decision, and will not be participating in Macworld Boston. Since IDG is no longer investing in New York, we now need to reevaluate our participation in Macworld New York 2003," was the statement that Apple release earlier this year. The suicide feud was on.

The scuttlebutt amongst the Apple “do-or-die” is that the no-show of the Grand Poobah Steve Jobs meant that the crowds of Stevie J groupies stayed away. Do they think that if the Grand Ring Master isn’t there to entertain and amaze with a Keynote sermon, it’s not a Mac Circus anyway? Oh, Ye of little faith . . . and individuality.

With only 40,000 attendees, this is a huge drop from last year’s event, as reported by New York’s Tourist and Convention Bureau NYC & Company. IDG is trying its best to make the poor attendance less damaging by claiming it’s all due to the economy and a “narrowed focus of this year’s show”, said David Korse, IDG’s new president to the San Francisco Chronicle. Earlier this year, Macworld San Francisco drew almost 90,000 participants; also down from previous years.

Keep in mind that New York and that geographical area of the Eastern Seaboard, is the Mecca for the Mac oriented publishing,

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graphics and advertising market segment. This is seemingly more of an omen for Apple rather than a “narrowed focus”. IDC reported that the computer market is quite healthy, except for Apple. The total number of Personal Computers (generically) grew 7.6% (8.1% in the USA specifically) in the 2nd Quarter 2003 at 33.2 million units, according to IDC. Apple was nowhere near the top 10 manufacturers.

Apple’s “Switch Campaign” has also fallen flat on its face, as reported by the Silicon Valley newspaper San Jose Mercury News. While Dell and other are increasing sales and market numbers to 17%, Apple has had it’s market share shrunken to 2.3%, according to research firms Gartner Dataquest and IDC. Apple also recently reported much lower sales numbers and an embarrassing low US$12 million net profit for the 2nd quarter 2003.

Adding to the possible reasons for a lack of enthusiasm for Mac users is the recent withdrawal of Microsoft’s support of a Mac Internet Explorer. Microsoft also did not attend NY Macworld Creativepro, along with a few other major software developers.

Adobe has also yanked the Premier line of professional video editing applications from their Mac line-up. Premier has a fiercely loyal Mac following and the new Premier Pro with it’s major bundle package now only for Windows, appears to be easily equal to Apple’s Final Cut Pro 4. Many feel it may cause a “Un-switch” movement to Windows by the Mac Premier faithful.

Don’t be surprised to see more defections from the Mac platform, perhaps even more lost applications from Adobe, as Apple runs headlong into alienating once dedicated developers with competitive applications of their own.

More evidence of a low ebb for Apple, Macworld Expo’s and perhaps IDG publications is that paid subscriptions for IDG’s Macworld magazine is down and only an effort with giving away free subscription for a year, has keep their number at 400,000, the exact same as last years totals. Could Macworld magazine fold? We’d have a good laugh, along with dropping a tear or two.

As for the future of Macworld Boston and future Macworld SF’s, we postulate that with Apple’s withdrawal from Boston 2004 and if IDG insists on rebuffing Apple’s bullying them back to NY, it will fold up the tent. We can’t imagine MWSF closing up shop, as it is Apple’s only traditionally big festival. Of course we wouldn’t put it past Steve Jobs pushing IDG out the controlling factor for the Big Show.



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