Thoughts on the Macworld Town Hall Meeting

Yesterday I attended the Macworld Town Hall meeting – and I didn’t come away from it with a good impression about the future of Macworld. The entire gathering was filled with backhanded comments and down right jabs at Apple for the move they’ve made – with enough “patting on the back” by IDG to make one sick.

The people in the room seemed to mostly be Macworld fanboys – even over being Apple fanboys. It was hard to describe. I eventually had to call it a day, and get out of there, because I wasn’t taking anything positive away from it.

I went into the Town Hall meeting hoping to come out with a positive impression of just what Macworld is going to be next year. Right now, that impression is in no-way positive.

I spoke with many vendors at the show, and I got the impression from many of them that there were still unsure as to if they were going to participate in the 2010 event. Today, IDG has announced that you can attend the Macworld 2010 Expo for FREE if you want, by registering right here.

I’m not sure what they hope to accomplish by giving away their “Expo Only” pass in 2010. It’s a bad move, that I think is going to ultimately hurt the Macworld Expo brand even further.

Here’s why –

1) They have just officially devalued Macworld. By making the $25 “Expo Only” ticket now free – it could be perceived by some that the Expo itself isn’t worth paying for without Apple’s attendance.

2) I understand the idea here – let’s get a ton of people registered so we can tout those numbers to vendors. The problem with that logic – is that it’s completely absurd. Having 25,000, 50,000 or 100,000 people register for a free ticket means NOTHING. That is in no way an indication of who is going to show up for the show – and most vendors are going to look at it that way.

IDG went out of their way to tell us at the Town Hall meeting yesterday that they were better than Apple Stores, they were better than Apple at teaching us how to use the tools that Apple has built, and that Macworld had been around “When their was a Steve Jobs at Apple, and when there wasn’t a Steve Jobs at Apple”.

They almost seemed to want to separate the Mac community from the company itself. It’s kind of like when a couple gets divorced and parents start making a case to the kids about which one is better.

The difference here is that Apple is no longer a “cult following” and Apple’s not going to make a case to us kids about why we should continue to love them…we can either take it or leave it.

IDG, on the other hand, is begging and pleading with us to spend time with them – and they’re willing to give us free passes, and all kinds of promises about how they’re better if we’ll do it.

It was an odd thing to watch, and if you were at the Town Hall meeting yesterday, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

Comments

  1. Jody Woodcock says:

    I have been to several Macworlds. I had decided not to go to this one well before the Apple new was put out. I do have differences with people, pundits etc, making out that Macworld is the best way to reach Mac users. If the majority of Mac users are from Calif then they are right. I do a lot of people watching and when walking around the floor and just casually seeing attendee badges you would see quite a lot of peoples badges before seeing one a person that was not from Calif.
    I would guess on my observations that 70 percent of the attendees were from Calif. and probably 70 percent of those were from the extended Bay area. Not scientific I know but just my observation. Plus with 40 to 70 thousand attendees, obviously there are a few million mac users not there.
    Just my two cents worth. Change will be accepted ;-)

  2. John Konopka says:

    I attended the town hall meeting also. I think you are being too harsh on the event. Sure, emotions ran a little high, but some good points were made. I’ve seen a number of such meetings at different types of user groups and this is about what you get. Passion and opinion and some good ideas. IDG needs to take this and the other suggestions they get, do some solid marketing, revamp their efforts and go from there. Remember that the people in that room were not casual users who use the Mac for some homework, gaming and iTunes. They were mostly creative types whose careers rely heavily on use of the Apple platform.

    It is true that MW does a much better job of education than Apple does, at its stores or anywhere else. Apple does offer weekly classes but they are brief introductions to products. The classes at MW, many of them anyway, are of very high caliber. The speakers are authors or other experts in their fields.

    Apple conducts a developer conference in June. IDG has a chance to host a great user’s conference as a counterweight to that. There is a great need for professional development among those using the Mac. Corporations encourage or even require their employees to take courses that will further their careers. MW could be one of the organizations filling that need by providing Mac-centric education. Some of what they offer now is fine. I’d like to see more emphasis on end usage rather than on the tools. For example, there could be instruction on presentation and public speaking (Keynote, Pages, Numbers), communication with video (iMovie, iTunes, GarageBand), simple document layout for those required to produce the occasional document (Pages), and so on.

    I was amazed to see the size of the Lynda booth. Clearly they have the idea that there is money to be made in education. Possibly IDG could partner with Lynda, Xtrain, University of Phoenix and others to conduct some of the courses. These organizations would gain exposure to more people who would possibly sign up for more extensive courses during the year.

    I don’t know what will become of MWSF. IDG is facing a huge number of big decisions. Clearly things will be different in coming years. The potential is there for them to succeed. The need is there and they can fill the need if they can work out the details.

  3. @John

    Thanks for the great reply. I was also amazed by the size of the Lynda booth. I would also like to see some of the classes you suggest added to the line-up.

    Everything I heard outside of the Macworld Town Hall meeting seemed to be focused on bringing in more consumers – that’s what the vendors are interested in anyway. It seems to me that Macworld is divided into two factions, the education section, and the vendor section.

    Unless I’m mistaken, though, the vendors dropping $5,000 per 10×10 square is what pays for a good portion of the event. I know that the passes to attend the sessions aren’t cheap – and I’m sure Macworld could survive with just them…but it seems like one route or the other is going to have to be taken.

    I also think it’s entirely possible that Apple could start their own Expo in San Francisco like a consumer version of WWDC – and if they do that – I think Macworld is doomed.

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