The End of Macworld (?), The Start of CES
SAN FRANCISCO --The fate of this one, not-too-large gathering called Macworld has a lot in common with some other transitions the Internet is forcing on established businesses -- say, bookstores and music stores with physical locations. In all these cases, the same question comes up: Can the Internet get the job done well enough to make face-to-face interaction redundant?
I had a good chat about this yesterday with Joel West, a business professor at San Jose State University and blogger who has attended almost every Macworld since the first in 1985. He agreed that Apple didn't need this show anymore, not least because of its awful timing. He (and more than one exhibitor) also noted that problems like high rental fees and setup charges for exhibit space make these trade shows a chore for people trying to do business there.
But he also said that for attendees and companies not named "Apple, Inc.," a gathering like this has its own benefits -- even in an industry as Internet-connected as the computing business.
"For my existence proof," West said, "I give you the open-source community." The developers of open-source programs like the Apache Web server easily coordinate their coding efforts across vast distances. And yet, he continued, "They need to have these events like ApacheCon... now and then where people can have a beer and get to know each other."
That event may wind up being Consumer Electronics Show. The Consumer Electronics Association has already set aside some exhibit space at next year's CES for Mac-focused products, CEA spokesman Jason Oxman wrote in an e-mail.
I'm now headed to that show, where I'll spend the next three days going from meeting to meeting and from exhibit to exhibit, wearing our my shoes and running up (more of) a sleep deficit as I try to see what the electronics industry has in store for the next year or so. Things start today with a round of press conferences -- I hope to make Samsung's, Panasonic's and Sony's -- followed by the opening keynote by Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer. I'll liveblog that, starting at 6:30 Pacific/9:30 Eastern.
For now, this is one last chance to post requests for things and trends you'd like me to try to check out in Vegas. The comments are yours...
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