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Almost Three Decades After Debut, Macworld Now Eyes Mobile

Almost Three Decades After Debut, Macworld Persists, Now Eyeing Mobile

It’s hard not to become a bit nostalgic on the eve of this year’s Macworld convention, the first since Steve Jobs died.

After all, it was 28 years ago this month that Jobs unveiled the very first Mac at the first-ever of these events.

An Apple fanatic friend of mine, in town from Ann Arbor for that convention, convinced me to go downtown and see the wondrous machine. I bought one on the spot -- not typical behavior by me, then or now.

Today, touring the pre-convention facility at Moscone West, I watched as crews set up exhibits for the show that begins tomorrow.

The event has been rebranded, and is now known as Macworld iWorld, in deference to the mobile future that -- in the Bay Area at least --has of course already arrived.

Roughly a quarter of the convention show space appears to be devoted directly to mobile apps and displays, with much more at least indirectly connected to the iPod, iPhone, and iPad universe.

But ever since Apple itself stopped attending the event three years ago, Macworld has been struggling to recover its mojo. Attendance the past two years was in the range of 21-22,000, according to the show operators, half the peak total of 44,000 attendees in 2007.

This year’s convention will have the usual array of software and accessories, along with entertainment and presentations, one of the most interesting of which is billed as going behind the scenes to see how Macs enable the production of the TV series South Park. In fact, walking around the convention hall today, my favorite part was the gallery on the second floor displaying framed copies of South Park art.

Fabulous stuff; if you’re going, be sure to check it out.

And even though Macworld may be somewhat a shadow of its former self, Yahoo reported earlier today that searches are spiking for the term, especially by men, who account for 64 percent of those seeking information on the event.