Dear Apple, about those WWDC tickets

Back in the day, it was easy to get tickets to WWDC. You and your friends could all count on getting in, so planning was easy, which made WWDC a truly social experience.

As Apple’s fortunes improved, WWDC tickets become harder and harder to get. Things reached a point where Apple had to institute a lottery for tickets. You no longer could guarantee yourself a ticket, but if you were going with a friend or a workmate, you could both try your luck and, if one of you didn’t get in, you could cancel your ticket. Bad luck, but no harm.

The problem (and the reason we just can’t have nice things anymore) is that people took advantage of Apple’s refund policy. Large companies would sign up to buy every single ticket they could, then cancel tickets once they knew how many they had won the rights to purchase.

This year, Apple will charge you for a ticket the second you are eligible to purchase it. And that charge is non-refundable. No more cancellations. Which means a fairer distribution of tickets, as people (and companies) are only signing up if they have a true intent to go to the conference.

The down side of this policy is that it wrings a little bit more of the social from the conference. Two friends can no longer make tentative plans to go to the conference if they both get in. True, they can go solo, but that’s not the same thing, especially for people who only see each other at dev conferences like WWDC.

I do understand that the core purpose of WWDC is to get your head wrapped around what’s new in iOS and OS X and to network with Apple engineers and other developers. But I still miss the old days when the social was on an equal footing with the learning/business side.

What? AltConf? Hmmm.