Friday, January 18, 2008

MacWorld Expo: Final Thoughts

First off here are the Day 2 pictures

Now that the show is over officially, I'll give my overall review of the show. Brian will give his review here

My overall impression. Apple was accurate with it's theme of the show: Something in the Air



Something in the Air tonight indeed. It's called vaporware, or as another person put it...Engineering by Powerpoint (or in this case keynote). Some were Betas, meaning they are actually programs, but the vendors expect users to find the bugs. So many vendors were showing off product and then said "This isn't out yet...but we expect to ship in...March...December...next Macworld." That's usually followed with "Buy our product now and we'll give you the next version when it ships." Here are some of the guilty:

Equinox: Tubestick (viewing HD TV on your Mac) and iSale 5. However, they are forgiven for having a great press pack...more on that later.

Neat Receipts for Mac: they expect to be fully compatible with the Mac...by December '08.

Intuit: No new version of Quickbooks (does anyone trust it?) and replacing Quicken with another money managment program called Quicken financial life: "some time in the third quarter 2008 we'll have a beta"

Retrospect X: they gave out cool glasses known as "Retrospecs" to pacify the fact they still don't have a Intel native version. Public Beta available. Gee...I'd trust a Beta of backup software...not

Avery: they will have design software for the Mac. Sign up for the Beta, but if you do, you have to agree for us to Spam you.

Thus I passed on this.

Now Software: Nighthawk. It was in beta at Macworld 2007 and still is beta in 2008. Yawn. Give up already!

iBank 3: Supports downloads from banks, just like Quicken. Will be released "in the next few weeks."

Garmin: Beta Software to access your GPS from the Mac (have I mentioned how upset I am mine was stolen!!!)

Micromat TechTool: All they could say is if you buy version 4.0 now, you get a free upgrade to 5.0 which will ship on DVD "some time in the future"



Google Picassa: great booth, great products...still waiting.

The other theme that continued and expanded was iPod and iPhone cases. Every Tom, Dick, Harry, Jane, Sally and on and on had a take on the same basic theme of a wrap around silicone case. If you've seen one, you've seen them all. Some differentiated themselves with features like "feet" or " easy access slider", but still the same. Mike just got a Nano and wanted a good case, I really had no clue. They all looked the same to me. Rough estimate is about 30% the show is cases for your iPhone/iPod cases, with another 10-15% cases for your laptop. Pratically every non case vendor I spoke with were annoyed that this is the "iShow" with the ocassional Mac product thrown in. At this point, I'm not sure if I'll go next year, and IDG (the company that puts on Macworld) will have to make some changes and either limit the amount of case vendors, or have seperate shows. This is after all MacWorld, not AppleWorld, and while these products have value to Mac users, they don't help promote Mac Products...which is a key goal of Macworld.

MacWorld tradition at the end of the show is to flicker the lights, applaud, and then begin the teardown. Macworld was split between two different buildings this year (Moscone South and Moscone West), but teardown began at about 30 minutes before the end of show and there was no applause...just security guards at 4:15 kicking out people who shouldn't be there.

In sum, there wasn't "much there" this year. If you factor out the companies merely announcing their intention to sell a product at some later date, and the companies selling the same basic iPod silicone case and zipper bag, not much to report on.

So as was last year's tradtion, I'll give my "Best of Show" along with some other commentary

Best Program:
Busysync: it won one of the "Best of Show" awards. It allows you to sync *and* edit iCal info without buying .mac. The next version (more vaporware...but he's forgiven because the product is cool right now), will sync with Google Calenders.
(runner up) SereneSaver: it gets a strong mention because it was the first program I installed on my laptop. Serene Saver is an active background that helps you relax. I always look for ways to relax! Check it out.

Best Swag (swag is free stuff):
Drivesavers: to be fair, I was given access to their VIP room as a vendor, but apparently they gave this out on the showroom floor as well: bag, luggage tag, buttons, coffee cups, mouse

Best Press Kit:
Equinox: These were the guys a few years back that had no press kit, refused to give out a review copy and were generally rude. This time I got a Macbook case, a free copy of their Leopard Mail Templates, a USB massager, printed information, and apparently demos on a 1 gig USB flash drive. Only problem...image was corrupt on the flash drive. Oh well.


Best Booth in terms of information:
Dr. Bott: because they showed my company logo.
Serious answer: Parallels. Great demos, fun swag (stress balls), lots of knowledgable people

Best Booth as far as cool factor
Belkin: they used this same booth last year, but the created an entire house on the showroom floor. Wow.

Best Booth to annoy the daylights out of you
Skullcandy: they were blasting their music non stop--right next to the pzizz booth and annoying all the people in Moscone West.

Best booth to theoricetically take a nap in:
Pzizz, which is a program to "program" you to relax or be energized, used these cool Metronap pods, but IDG in it's brillance placed them next to Skullcap. According to multiple vendors, skullcap told people to go away when asked to turn down the music.



Best surprise no show to the show:
BareBones software: These guys have been there as long as I can remember. Really great T-Shirts. Heck, they even had a product to announce. Personally, I chalk it up to a bad PR firm: Pearce Communication I spoke with the Naomi once...very pushy and over the top. Bad decision not to show this year BareBones!!! You and your T-shirts were missed. If she tells you to give away iPod cases instead, please fire her on the spot.

Best thing about the show:
The contacts I made. I got about 75 business cards this time of not just PR people, but engineers and tech support people. This helps me with my clients, because I can wade through the phones trees and outsourced call centers to get to the right person to get me the information I need for my clients.

Best booth that I wish I saw a few weeks ago:
Gadgettrak: helps you recover stolen laptops, iPods and GPS. Unfortunately not an easy thing to test.


Best time for the show:
I was done in about six hours. I established contact with every booth that 1) didn't have an iPod case, 2) had something that would interest myself or my clients and 3) I understood what they were talking about. I was still exhausted.

BestMacs?:
Despite us being in the same place many times, we couldn't hook up to actually see each other in person. The fact that AT&T's network near the Moscone was overwhelmed with iPhones meant we couldn't easily call or text each other.

Watch this space for more reviews of all the great products I'll be getting in the mail