Apple and IDG World Expo last week announced that Apple CEO Steve Jobs will return to the Macworld Expo keynote stage after skipping Julys event in New York. Jobs instead appeared at Apples own Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco in June, where he unveiled the "Panther" 10.3 version of Mac OS X. Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple said the Macworld snub was in response to IDG World Expos decision to move the East Coast show to Boston starting in 2004.
David Korse, the president of IDG World Expo, which produces Macworld Expo as well as LinuxWorld and other industry conferences, told eWEEK.com that pre-registration for the San Francisco show is "almost exactly on par with last year."
As expected, some of the Macworld conference tracks will focus on content creation—no surprise given the Macs history in the graphics market and Apples Digital Hub strategy. In addition, sessions providing a deeper understanding of the BSD Unix-based Mac OS X look popular, one is already sold out.
At the same time, this years conference features a renewed concentration on enterprise applications and IT management. Called MacIT, the track will present detailed information on integrating the Macintosh into Windows and Unix environments; increasing security and implementing OS X-based servers, such as the Xserve.
A number of enterprise vendors are expected to make announcements about support for Mac OS X 10.3 Server, including Oracle Corp. for its touted Oracle Database 10g platform. The current software supports the Oracle9i Database on the previous "Jaguar" 10.2 version of OS X.
Several Mac-centric rumor sites predict an announcement from Apple about a new Xserve based on the PowerPC G5 processor. The move has been expected following the release of the companys Power Macintosh G5 workstation in late summer. Apples current server software bundles about 80 open-source applications, all qualified to interoperate with each other and tied together under Apples GUI.
Apple representatives carefully avoid the subject of a new Xserve. In a November interview with eWEEK.com, Doug Brooks, Apples server hardware product manager, declined to comment on when a G5 Xserve might be introduced. "The G5 is an amazing architecture, with wonderful performance that stands out," he said at the time.
Meanwhile, the continued success of the San Francisco Mac show contrasts with the decline of many other U.S. technology trade shows over the last few years. One recent example was the which sported attendance and venues only a fraction of past shows.
According to Korse, Macworld is "not impervious, but resistant" to recent trends, noting that the show has not suffered the same sharp downturn as seen by other technology conferences.
Still, while attendance is holding firm, approximately 15 percent to 20 percent fewer vendors will exhibit at the 2004 show compared with 2003. Korse said a large part of that decline was due to corporate consolidation. He added that despite this, the show floor will be no smaller than in previous years. Larger businesses have bought more space at "pretty much" the same rate as in previous years, which have, he admitted, fallen from their peak of five years ago.
Contacted separately, a Microsoft Corp. representative confirmed that the company will have a presence at Macworld Expo SF on par with past years, but declined to go into specifics.
At the same time, Korse said, the state of the summer 2004 Mac-centric show remains up in the air, though without the overtones of conflict that affected the 2003 edition. The company in 2003 pressed the issue of moving the Expo, which had been ensconced in New York Citys Javits Center, to a new World Trade Center in Boston.
Partially, this move was planned to reduce costs to IDG and vendors, but Apple management resisted the change, to the point of threatening to pull out. Most differences were patched over and the show went on in New York (as Macworld Creative Pro, and more geared to professional content producers).
Next page: Whats ahead for summer 2004?