Scenes From a Macworld in Transition
SAN FRANCISCO -- Macworld may be all about the Mac, but it's not all about Apple. So after a quick stop by the Apple booth to clear up a few details left unsaid in the keynote, I spent yesterday afternoon talking to various developers scattered around the Moscone Center to see what they were working on.
* At Apple's booth, I got a quick tour of iWork '09 and iMovie '09. I was told that Apple has been using iWork '09's Keynote program since at least the iPhone 3G's unveiling back in June; got a somewhat veiled hint that iWork.com, the online component of this package, might allow Web users to edit, not just read, iWork documents online when this online service exits its beta test; and was pleased to learn that iMovie '09 can export a movie project to iDVD, restoring yet another feature that vanished from iMovie in the prior update.
* I stopped by Intuit's exhibit not long after to check out Quicken Financial Life, the long-delayed update to the company's personal-finance program for Macs. This program, when it ships sometime this summer, will act more like online finance managers like Mint, Wesabe and Intuit's Quicken Online.It will default to syncing your records with your bank and credit-card issuers' records, relieving users of the monthly chore of reconciling their records with the bank's. But will users weary of Quicken for Mac's current weaknesses wait that long? The competing, but far smaller developer
ICG IGG reported that sales of its iBank program saw a big jump after Intuit announced that Quicken Financial Life wouldn't ship this year as originally planned.
* Google announced the release of a Mac version of its Picasa photo editor the day before Macworld opened -- which now looks like pretty awful timing given the imminent release of Apple's iPhoto '09. The company had a decent crowd at its booth, but on one Mac running Picasa, this photo editor had crashed hard when I stopped by. (The demo gods can be cruel and vengeful.)
* I also devoted a little time to talking to random vendors to ask what they got out of Macworld, and what they'd do if it weren't around anymore -- as seems likely to be the case without Apple to headline the event after this year. The responses I got were all over the map. Some (for example, IGG) sounded disappointed or resigned, but others said they wouldn't mind not having to deal with the hassle of a big event like Macworld (Delicious Monster founder Wil Shipley said he only agreed to do this year's expo after his staff volunteered to set up everything for him). The Web can replace a good chunk of the face-to-face interaction this kind of event allows, but can it replace enough? It looks like Apple developers and customers are going to find out.
Are you at Macworld, or following it from afar? Let me know what's made this show worthwhile -- or not -- in the comments.
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