In my last column, I talked about the major Macworld Expo Keynote
announcements, but those weren’t the only things that I saw of note at
This conference had a lot going on, in fact, almost too much. The show
floor was nigh-overwhelming in what was going on, well, everywhere. Some
conversations with the folks at IDG World Expo confirmed this.
They told me the only empty spots on the show floor were due to vendors
who hadn’t shown for various reasons. There were, I believe, two. In a
related note, IDG World Expo announced that Paul Kent, founder of
Mactivity and long-time Macworld Expo (along with other shows) Conference
chair had been promoted
to vice president in charge of Macworld Expo. Those of us who have
been teaching at Macworld Expo, and involved with the show for a while
are pretty much universally pleased at this. Paul and his team have
always done an excellent job with the conferences, and we’re all sure
that he’ll do the same with the show overall.
For many in enterprise IT, Research In Motion’s BlackBerry is a critical part of
our toolset — lawsuits or not. However, until recently, you really
couldn’t sync a BlackBerry with a Mac at all, and up until Macworld, you
had to buy sync software from a third party, namely PocketMac.
At Macworld, not only was BlackBerry there, but they announced a
licensing deal that allows all BlackBerry owners to get the PocketMac
software for free. Now, PocketMac was never what anyone would call
expensive, but it’s important from an image perspective if nothing else,
as it shows that RIM is viewing its Mac, using customers as a serious
enough number to be worthy of some care and feeding.
The other major handheld sync company, Mark/Space was present, as well,
showing off its Missing Sync line. Although they didn’t have a major
announcement ala PocketMac, they do have some of the best sync software
on the Mac for Palm, Windows Mobile, and Sidekick devices.
The latest revision to their Palm software supports Sync Services in Mac
OS X 10.4. This is a major addition to the product, (and one I hope shows
up in the Windows Mobile version), as it allows you to sync data, like
contacts, events, and notes, with multiple applications, whether you
directly sync with those applications or not. If you have a .Mac account,
you can sync that data with multiple Macs, all without having to connect
your device with any one of them.
I know many question the value of .Mac, but I think Sync Services, and
the potential it has in conjunction with .Mac, has a huge potential
value, especially as more applications integrate Sync Services support.
Garmin was perhaps the biggest non-keynote surprise of Macworld for me.
A company long-known for ignoring the Mac market — almost to the point
of hostility — they were not only at Macworld Expo, but were announcing
that they are going to ”immediately
begin to make its line of GPS and mobile electronics devices
compatible with Mac OS X version 10.4”. If you rely on GPS systems to
get your work done, for a long time you used Windows. You could get
third-party stuff to work with Garmin units, but getting support for new
units was spotty, and functionality wasn’t always there. Garmin
announcing support for the Mac will be a big help to Mac-using Garmin
customers in fields from physical training to sales.
The Session Side
On the conference side of the show, the lineup was excellent, as usual.
Presenting technical material, especially in a session that’s only 90
minutes long, and to an unknown audience of an unknown skill level is
tricky at best, but the presenters always manage to pull it off. This
year had more sold-out conferences, and standing room-only sessions than
I’ve seen in a while. The two-day Mac OS X Server Advanced Power Tools
session was sold out early, as was the AppleScript, Final Cut Pro Studio,
Acrobat and Photoshop sessions. There were quite a few Mac IT conferences
that had to be run twice to acommodate all the attendees who wanted to
see them. (The message for 2007? Register early. Arrive early.)
The Mac IT conference was, as always, full of sessions for use at every
level, from the server room tech to the corner office denizen. It was
quite possible to spend the entire week of Macworld Expo in sessions and
conferences, never hitting the show floor, and still getting more than
your money’s worth. The conferences have always been the not-so-hidden
gem of Macworld, and, at least in my opinion, a major reason for Macworld
surviving where other shows, like Comdex, have failed. Some things you
just can’t match on the Internet, not even with WebEx.
I know I haven’t covered even half of Macworld. I had thought about doing
daily posts, but honestly, Macworld is a week of constant activity, and I
realized I hadn’t planned correctly for daily posting at all. Maybe next
year I can pull that off.
But, as always, I got far more out of Macworld Expo than I spent on
Macworld Expo, and that’s enough to keep me coming back every year. (Oh
yes… From what I can tell, my sessions on SOX and Nagios went well,
even with the demo gods frowning on me in the latter. To all who
attended, and said such kind things to me afterwards, thank you very
much. It’s really nice to know that people get something useful out of
the hardest 90 minutes of my year.)