As some 25,000 attendees begin to gather at the Moscone soon for the 29th annual Macworld show that opens on January 31st, we spoke with Paul Kent, general manager of the event, about the way the long-running show is changing.
“It is evolving into a consumer mobile lifestyle show,” Kent said. “It is a big coming together, where the attendees are looking to presenters for new apps and ideas, and the presenters and developers are looking to these early adopters for feedback.”
This year’s show, which the past few years has been rebranded as Macworld iWorld in recognition of the growing importance of mobile platforms in the Apple ecosystem, features a number of live performances, contests, lectures and interactive opportunities.
Among the headliners are Ashton Kutcher and Josh Gad, who play Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in the upcoming movie, JOBS, and will talk about portraying Apple’s famous co-founders.
There is also an iPhone film festival, featuring films shot entirely on iPhones or iPads and edited with mobile technology.
Another feature this year will be the conclusion of a social media music contest that over 300 indie bands entered. One of the two finalists, Exist Elsewhere and Mister Loveless, will open for the rock band Little Feat at the show’s blast party.
“We've been adding the 'tech arts festival vibe' the past few years,” notes Kent. “Apple tech touches the arts in so many ways. One of our goals is to expand that cultural awareness.”
One long-running aspect of Macworld is that it serves as a shopping venue for attendees.
“People discover and buy new products at the show,” says Kent. “That’s because it is a consumer show, not a trade show. The culture of shopping is a major aspect of the experience.”
Over 650 press outlets from all over the world are registered to attend this year’s event, a testament to how much interest Apple’s wave of innovation in consumer products continues to generate globally.
“We are still early in this era, still just scratching the surface of what we can do and how we can live our lives with mobile technology,” says Kent.
In that context, he says that of the over 300 exhibitors who will be on hand, many of them are first-time attendees of the show.