∞ Parting Macworld Expo thoughts: Wish you were here

Among all the things I heard at Macworld Expo this past week, absolutely the most banal, trite, idiotic, and pointless observation was, “This show isn’t the same without Apple.”

Of course it isn’t the same without Apple. We all knew it wouldn’t be the moment that Apple announced they were pulling out of the event. Apple thinks it’s grown out of needing to exhibit at Macworld Expo, so IDG World Expo, the show’s producers, needed to find a way to move beyond that.

I think they’ve done remarkably well, and I can’t wait to see what 2011 holds.

I got a lot out of my time at Macworld Expo

First, wearing my executive editor hat at The Loop, this show was a stunning success. I met with tons of great industry people – everyone from independent iPhone application developers, established “big name” companies, peripheral makers, distributors and others.

You may not see the evidence of that today, based on our headlines. That’s partly because there were, quite frankly, fewer big, breaking announcements than years past. But that’s also part of a longer-range focus from Jim Dalrymple and me to focus our attention more on meaningful news we can apply some context to for our readers.

But make no mistake: My time here will pay off in the days and weeks to come. Because I was able to meet with people and talk about things that I’ll be bringing to you when the time comes – important news that affects you, affects your business, and the way you use your Mac and other Apple devices.

In short, my time was spent communicating with a broad cross-section of the Apple ecosystem – Mac, iPhone, iPod and soon iPad. Plus there were thousands of attendees, checking out their wares from the show floor, attending conference sessions, incredibly in-depth pro tools tracks, user conferences, birds of a feather meetings and more.

And that, right there, is what makes Macworld Expo such a crucially important event for the entire Apple ecosystem. There’s no other event like it, anywhere.

Not my best show ever

Late on Saturday evening, with the show receding rapidly into our rear view mirror, Shawn King of Your Mac Life and I compared notes outside of our favorite local late-night watering hole.

Shawn asked me to apply a letter grade to rate the show, and my answer was C. That bears an explanation though, so please stick with me.

Shawn’s eyebrows went way up – perhaps even more remarkable, because after a visit to a master barber Shawn makes an annual pilgrim to every year during Macworld Expo, his eyebrows were almost the only hair left on his head.

Shawn said he was surprised to hear me rate this year’s show that low, because others had been averaging about a B rating – not bad compared to some years that Apple has exhibited, I assure you. And if you don’t know Shawn, let me just say that he’s not the guy to blow smoke up your butt – he’ll tell it like it is, for better or worse.

My C grade was mainly ruminating on my own performance. From my perspective, it was simply a matter of poor time management – I didn’t have anyone but myself to blame.

Well, I’ll blame Jim Dalrymple a little bit, because he stayed home and didn’t chaperone me, and believe me I could have used it.

I didn’t have enough hours in the day to do everything I needed to, And in typical fashion, even with a smaller expo hall than last year, I didn’t have nearly enough time on the show floor.

Was my experience typical? For someone with a badge that said “Expo Only,” chances are no. If that’s all you came to the show for, you found a much smaller event. But Macworld Expo is much bigger than just the show floor. There are a lot of activities, a lot of events, and there’s an immense amount of added value if you look around.

We hope you’ll join us next time

Here’s the bottom line: Macworld Expo isn’t, and never has been, Apple’s event. It’s our event. The users. The people. Each and every person who walked in the door. If you weren’t there, you missed out. And it’s our loss, too, because the show was diminished without you here.

But you know what? Those of us who were here had a great time without you.

We miss you, and we hope you’ll come back. We’ll have an even better time together in 2011. I promise.