Last year I wrote:

Having just concluded three days of Macworld SF 2010 after taking part in various user conferences and walking the show floor, I remain somewhat skeptical of Macworld SF 2011.

The joy of being right is rather muted by the embarrassment of actually attending this year’s dismal show. This year’s Macworld is even smaller than last year’s. I’d say that they’ve shoehorned the affair into the smaller Moscone West except that there are so few vendors there’s no shoehorning needed. No Apple obviously, but also no Adobe, Microsoft, Brother, Canon, Nikon, etc. When one of your star vendors is Dexim, a company I’ve never heard of, you’re in real trouble.

Macworld has already announced dates for next year, but unless there’s a dramatic announcement (“Apple returns!”), I can’t see how the show makes it. I’ve been going to Macworld for about 10 years, but this is it; I’m done. I arrived at the show late and covered the whole thing in under three hours. Given Apple’s record sales in Macs, iPads and iPhones, I can only conclude trade shows—or at least this trade show—are going the way of the dinosaur.


  • iGrill by iDevices is a Bluetooth cooking thermometer that connects wirelessly to your iPhone. Demos well. iPhone-owning BBQers rejoice.
  • iPhoneLife magazine, already so in need of a renaming that they append “+iPad & iPod Touch” above the title, is a dismally written affair. The glossy paper and layouts are fine, but this is a good example of what you get when you ask non-writers to be writers. Quality goes up and down by the page. Some of the reviews are coherent—informative, even—but for God’s sake don’t make this the only tech magazine to which you subscribe.
  • New magazine i.Business is worse. They intend to cover Apple technology and business, two subjects that have apparently never come together before, and I wish them well. The first issue wasn’t promising, but in life you get points just for showing up, so I’m happy to revisit the periodical in another year—assuming, of course, that there’s something to revisit.
  • I had an extended conversation with a fellow from Marketcircle about the state of the show. Previously Marketcircle had a huge presence. This year, only a small booth in which to meet and greet. We didn’t really get into their products, since Billings (still) won’t integrate with QuickBooks properly and Daylite (a product in which I was even certified at one time) is far too confusing for the average business owner. (How confusing? You probably have to hire a certified consultant to show you how to use it.)
  • The iPad app Art Authority looks terrific. It’s $7.99, which is expensive relative to other apps in the App Store, but for a historical overview of artists and artwork, it looks fantastic. Bought it as soon as I got home to the iPad.
  • I’ve already got covers for my iPhones and iPads, so I didn’t find this compelling, but if you’d like to make a customized gel skin cover for your device, these are the GelaSkins are the guys who do it. About $40 for an iPad case and $20 for an iPhone one. They’ve got a bunch of fancy pre-made ones if you don’t want to do your own, but I think the only reason to do this would be that you want to put your own artwork on the outside of your iOS device.
  • If you’ve found yourself desperately wishing you could go swimming with your iPhone, iPod Touch, or, God knows why, even your iPad, the solution appeared in the form of Dry Case. Waterproof down to 100 feet, the kit can be augmented by optional waterproof earbuds and sports belts. So confident is Dry Case of their technology that they offer a one-year Dry Case replacement guarantee. That is to say, they’ll send you a new case in which to place your now waterlogged iPhone. What could be more reassuring?
  • What’s that? You say you have an idea for a great iPhone or iPad app but no idea whatsoever how to code anything? Did you also say that you have a minimum of $2,000 (and more likely $4,000) to make the idea a reality? If so, AppMuse can find you the programmer you need. Give AppMuse the idea—they’ll sign a non-disclosure agreement if you like (and you really better like, if you know what’s smart)—and they’ll put it out there to their roster of programmers, three of whom will submit bids to work on your project. I have every confidence that AppMuse and several thousand bucks can make your iPhone/iPad dream a reality.
  • The number one thing you can do to make your Mac faster is to place it aboard a rocket ship. A close second is to replace the Mac’s internal hard drive with an Other World Computing (OWC) Solid State Drive (SDD). Don’t worry if that’s a lot of acronyms, most tech words barely make sense anyway. Be that as it may, SSDs are insanely fast compared to traditional hard drives, and as I’ve watched the prices creep down from the thousands into the hundreds I’ve become increasingly tempted to upgrade my laptop with one of these. Most everyday tasks become 2-3x faster. See this video for proof.
  • San Francisco at night is a dim, broadly-lit place with a pervasive sense of unreality. I feel like I’m inside somebody’s performance art project.
  • Want to download that YouTube video with the dancing monkey? Of course you do, and darn Google for making it nigh impossible. Happily, Jaksta will let you do it. It’s not free, but use coupon code JMACWORLD (valid until Feb. 15, 2011) to get $10 off.
  • If you’ll be handing off that new iPad to the kids or if you’re the clumsy sort, Ektopad iPad cover is the most rugged thing short of an uber-expensive Otterbox. I’m not saying you should turn your iPad into a Frisbee to test it out, but for an accidental drop you’ve got much better odds that the thing survives.

So, the end of an era. I won’t miss the CalTrain (any more), and the six block walk to Moscone got a little old, particularly the stinky under the bridge part. But I did enjoy the Macworld event itself for many years, and I will miss the coming together of people to celebrate all things Apple. I’ve been through technological deaths before, notable Commodore with its Vic-20, Commodore 64 and Amiga. Apple’s never been stronger, so this isn’t that.

Rather it’s a change in the way people sell things and how they receive information about products. Apple’s internalized some of it with the app store for the Mac and for the iOS devices. The Internet and the ever-increasing number of Apple Retail Stores take care of the rest, I suppose. For me, though, nothing will ever take the place of a really good Macworld show. I’m sorry this wasn’t one, but I had a few and that’s more than many can say.