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After Nearly 30 Years, Apple Fans Still Flock to Macworld

After Nearly 30 Years, Apple Fans Still Flock to Macworld

The heady days of January Macworlds: Steve Jobs prowling the stage; new products overshadowing news from the International CES show held the same month; legions of Apple fans crowding the Moscone Center aisles. Jobs may be gone, and his company is no longer a part of Macworld, but the fans are still gathering for their semiannual celebration of all things Apple.

By John P. Mello Jr. MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
02/01/13 5:00 AM PT

In the days before Apple split with Macworld, fans of the company's products used to pack the event in feverish anticipation of watching Steve Jobs tell them what new goodies his company had in store for them.

How things have changed: The show has a new name, Macworld/iWorld, and an actor who will be playing the late Jobs in an forthcoming biopic took center stage.

While new products used to be the headliners at Macworld, top billing at Macworld/iWorld on Thursday belonged to Ashton Kutcher, star of the film JOBS; Josh Gad, who plays Steve Wozniak in the same movie; and Fred Armisen, a former cast member on Saturday Night Live and cocreator of the quirky IFC comedy series Portlandia.

Stronger Since Apple Split

The appearance of celebrities gives Macworld/iWorld something in common with January's sprawling International CES 2013 extravaganza in Las Vegas. Other than that, the Mac show is actually targeted at consumers while CES is more for the media and retail buyers.

"Consumers are really interested in going to this show," Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with Gartner, told MacNewsWorld. "That's kind of important because there aren't that many end-user consumer trade shows any more. As one of the last trade shows open to consumers, it shows that there is strong consumer interest in Apple and its products."

When Apple pulled out of the show in 2008, a number of Cassandras predicted Macworld would disappear from the show scene. Those forecasts proved to be inaccurate.

"Since Apple left, surprisingly the show has actually gotten pretty strong," said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, a technology business strategy firm.

Changing with the Times

Over its nearly 30 years of history, Macworld has shown an ability to adapt itself with changing times. Bajarin, who participated in getting the first Macworld off the ground in the 1980s, recalled the driving force behind the show then was desktop publishing.

"At the first show, the three major players in desktop publishing software were there, along with Apple," Bajarin told MacNewsWorld, "so it attracted more of a business crowd."

A more recent change in the event was made last year, when its organizers renamed the show Macworld/iWorld to broaden the gala's scope to include the "i" lifestyle promoted by Apple products.

The new name also opens the show up to applications outside the Apple universe. "In a realistic world, software developers, while backing Apple and iOS, many of them have started backing Android because of the growth of the Android market," Bajarin explained.

Crowded Sessions

While celebrities at the show may attract headlines, Bajarin said that the real draw for most Apple fans attending the event are the Mac experts. "The session that teach you how to get the most out of your Mac are always crammed."

More than 50 tech talk sessions will be held at Macworld/iWorld before the show ends on Saturday. Topics include "iPhoneography," "The iPad Mobile Office," "Build An eBook Without Tearing Your Hair Out" and "Creative iPhone Editing."

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