The 28-year-old expo has a new brand, a new focus and hundreds of fizzy new products
When Apple (AAPL) announced in 2008 that it was pulling out of Macworld -- no longer exhibiting its products or staging Steve Jobs' closely-watched keynotes -- many wondered whether the venerable expo could survive.
It was touch and go there for a while, but it turns out there is money to be made providing a venue where third-party vendors and Apple's preternaturally loyal customers can get together once a year.
So this week in San Francisco's Moscone West convention center, some 300 companies will be exhibiting their wares at the freshly renamed Macworld|iWorld -- a new brand, explains general manager Paul Kent, that formalizes the show's evolution since the rise of the iPhone and iPad.
Kent has taken a page from Austin's South by Southwest, setting up performance spaces and galleries and booking a roster of Apple-flavored name-brand artists, including jam-band Moe, writer Susan Orlean, Public Enemy's Hank Shocklee and the creators of South Park.
But at its heart, Macworld|iWorld is about the software and accessories on display -- some silly, some substantive, some a little scary. Here are the themes that caught our eye on Day 1:
Bottle openers. We spotted three different iPhone cases with built-in church keys, one from Opena Case that slides from the bottom and two from Intoxicase that are affixed to the back. Intoxicase also makes a free app that counts how many brews you've opened.
Microphones. To improve on the built-in model, Mic-W makes its iSeries "professional" mics that plug into the headphone jack. Blue Microphones has one with a pop filter and a shock mount that wouldn't look out of place on David Letterman's desk.
iPad holders. To make it easier to hold an iPad with one hand, Grablet offers an attachment with big plastic clips and an adjustable pad. Octa's Tablet Tail comes in two pieces: a vacuum dock and a flexible WhaleTail that looks just like it sounds. We still haven't seen the perfect iPad pillow for watching movies in bed.
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