Last week I traveled to San Francisco to attend Macworld Expo 2011 at Moscone Center West. As the name of this post implies, it is the first time I have attended Macworld, and since a number of DocumentSnap readers asked me to let them know how it went, I decided to share it in a blog post.
The executive summary? I enjoyed the conference and got a lot out of it. There is a sense of community there that you don’t get in many tech conferences.
The Expo Floor
Like most expo-style conferences, there is a big show floor where vendors have their booths. From talking to other people, this year it is much smaller than in years past, but it was big enough for me. I have heard people describe it as the “iPad Case Floor”, but I don’t think that description is entirely fair. There were lots of iPad accessories to be sure (more than iPhone), but there were lots of other booths as well.
One thing that was interesting to me is that even though it was “Macworld”, many of the vendors in attendance had products that were cross-platform. To me, the show floor was more “nerdvana” than it was “macvana”.
Many of the large vendors that have been there in the past like Adobe, Canon, and (yes) Apple have pulled out of the show, but I personally was not walking around thinking “I sure wish Adobe was here”. There were enough smaller vendors to make things interesting for me.
Regardless, the show floor was packed with people whenever I wandered the floor. I have no idea what the attendance numbers were in comparison to past years, but there were lots of people there at all times.
Every time I passed some booths like the Drobo, it was packed.
Another popular booth was, of course, the ScanSnap booth. It had a prime location right at the center of the floor.
Whenever I walked by, it was busy. In fact, it might have been a bit too exciting for this person:
(I’ll admit, that ScanSnap booth beanbag did look pretty comfy).
By far the most impressive booth at the Expo was the TV Hat.
You know you want it!
The booth of the Omni Group was always popular, and I am getting closer and closer to dropping the cash for OmniFocus. Merlin Mann, a big inspiration for the creation of this site in the first place, was there giving OmniFocus demos.
The User Conference
I attended the User Conference, which consists of hour (or so) long sessions on a number of tracks.
The only problem was I wished I could be in multiple places at once. Sometimes it was hard to choose which to attend.
Fortunately, every session that I attended I learned something that I can put to use right away. I checked out some fantastic sessions by Don McAllister of ScreencastsOnline fame, David Sparks from MacSparky, Andy Ihnatko, Victor Cajiao from the Typical Mac User Podcast, and many more.
I also attended Katie Floyd‘s session on Going Paperless, which was one of the best presentations on going paperless I have ever seen. She did a fantastic job covering all the bases and I picked up a killer tip that I will be sharing in a future blog post.
There were a number of featured attractions at Macworld. The headliner was the comedian Sinbad. I heard his set was hilarious, but the combination of me being starving and this lineup meant I had to skip it:
I did check out the iFixit presentation in which they took apart a Macbook Air live on stage. It was highly entertaining.
There was also a “Macworld Live” stage on the show floor. Some notable Mac podcasts recorded episodes live there, including my favorite Mac Power Users.
Parties and Meetups
In addition to the business end of Macworld, there is a big social component. There were a number of parties and meetups going on.
One that I attended was Cirque du Mac, which is “invite-only” but it isn’t too hard to score tickets from the sponsors. I received mine from Smile Software in a Twitter contest. Thanks!
It was a great time, highlighted by the amazing Macworld All Star Band, a group of Mac writers that performs once a year at Macworld. They were incredibly tight.
(He said it, not me).
I also hit the TUAW meetup, which was fun. It was great to meet their writers and hear how they do things. It was sponsored by HP, so they were showing off an HP Envy printer. People were printing photos from their iPhones to the printer, and much hilarity ensued.
On the show floor, I went and tried to bug all the paperless vendors. Some of them I will have individual posts for, but here are a few highlights.
Beware The Paper Monster
I was talking to the folks there and it sounds like they will have lots of good things coming in 2011. I’m looking forward to seeing what is coming.
Winner Winner Chicken Dinner
Fujitsu was giving out ScanSnap S1100s, so that was drawing quite a crowd as you can see.
I have to admit, I was not too familiar with the iVina Bulletscan before the show, but I talked to their CEO and had a demo of their scanners and they look pretty good. I hope to try one out myself and report back to you.
The folks from I.R.I.S. had a really busy booth showing off their range of mobile and pen scanners. One that sounded interesting is the Iriscan Anywhere which lets you scan documents without having to connect it to your computer.
As I mentioned earlier, the sense of community at Macworld Expo was apparent. I talked to a number of people who, when I told them this was my first show, said “Wow! This is my 20th!”. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting people I had only talked to online in the past. I’m not sure what direction the show will take in the future, or if the big names will ever come back, but I am glad that I went.