The news that Apple CEO Steve Jobs would forgo giving the keynote address at January's Macworld Conference in San Francisco, and that the company would not attend future iterations of the trade show came as a shock to most of the tech world – but not a surprise.
The trade show tango
As Apple reminded in its press release, the company has been "steadily scaling back on trade shows in recent years, including NAB, Macworld New York, Macworld Tokyo and Apple Expo in Paris," choosing instead to introduce products at special events of its own choosing. As Macworld.com editor Jason Snell puts it in discussing Apple's past pullouts: "It was clear to me that Apple was tired of announcing products on someone else’s schedule."
ZDNet's Sam Diaz looks at Apple's Macworld abandonment and wonders about the future of technology trade shows. His conclusion: With the web, who needs them?
Think about the outreach tools that companies have at their disposal these days. Webcasts have become online events where people from around the globe can attend without booking a flight, hotel room or restaurant reservations. Viral videos are being produced by companies to showcase their products and technologies in real-world environments. Brand names are creating loyal followings via “fan memberships” on social networking sites such as Facebook. And, increasingly, there are smaller intimate shows that cater to crowds with specific interest.