Macworld 2011 Wrap Up

So another Macworld has come and gone and it’s time for a wrap up:

The Exposition

This year the entire conference was in Moscone West (and I’m told it will be the same next year). This was perfect. It allowed you to attend conference sessions and return to the exposition hall with an escalator ride. Another nice benefit is that the exposition hall is above ground and, as a result, the 3G signal is much better.

The exposition hall itself was packed every day. Some of the bigger vendors (Google, Adobe, and Microsoft) were not present. As a result, walking the halls you were able to discover many small and medium-sized companies with innovative products that you may have never discovered otherwise. One of my favorites was the iConnect MIDI box, a small box that allows you to send and receive MIDI signals between iOS devices and a MIDI instrument. It looks as if I may be doing sequencing with my MIDI keyboard and iPad in the near future. Another interesting product was LensPen’s SideKick, a carbon based iPad glass cleaner.

There was also news from well-established Mac developers. The Omni Group talked about 2011 releases of OmniPlan for both the Mac and iPad (with hooks to OmniFocus) and OmniOutliner for the iPad. The interface for iPad OmniOutliner (in its current alpha iteration) looks good. I’m looking forward to seeing the final release.

One of the recurring themes from developers was how the iPad hijacked 2010. Everyone’s plans changed as they raced to join the iPad goldrush. In 2011, I suspect a lot of these developers will be returning their focus to the Mac and we will get several interesting new software applications and updates.

The vibe on the show floor was electric. Attendees were having a great time, discovering new products, and making new friends. One of my indicators about the success of Macworld is the number of attendees you find sitting on the ground with their Macs and iPads out sharing tips and tricks. I’ve never been to any other conference were people do this. This year, these impromptu sessions were everywhere.

The Macworld planners outdid themselves this year with the Macworld Live stage. With full lighting, video, and audio support, the stage felt like a late night talk show set. They had nice couches and a full agenda of excellent speakers, podcasters, and other entertainers. It was thrilling for Katie and I to record the Mac Power Users from the show floor with a live audience. (We are working on getting a copy of the video.)

My biggest disappointment was my presentations at the Omni booth. I had way too much material to cover in 30 minutes and there were audio problems so I never really found my rhythm. The good news is, I spent plenty of time preparing and I’m finally going to make good on my promise to make the mother of all OmniFocus screencasts so stay tuned. Also, if I speak at Omni next year, I’m going to request an hour so things aren’t so rushed.

The Conference

Once again, there was a stunning assortment of conference topics ranging from the most basic to full on, third-degree propeller beanie nerdery. I was able to attend several conference sessions and learned plenty. My synchronization session went great.

This year, there was a new addition Macworld called the Macworld Industry Forum. This was, essentially, Macworld TED with feature speakers giving 20 minute summaries of topics relevant to the Mac community. Speakers included Jason Snell, John Gruber, and other smart people explaining trends and sharing insight. It was a brilliant addition to the Macworld curriculum. I hope it comes back.

The Book

It was thrilling for me to stand in the Wiley booth and watch people take Mac at Work off the shelf. I spoke with several attendees who read the book and their compliments made all the effort worth it.

The Social

It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to make new friends at Macworld. Every year I renew old friendships and make several new ones. This year was no different. Overall, there was a great vibe to this year’s show. Last year, there was an underlying tension with Apple’s departure. This year, nobody missed Apple. In fact, the conference had several interesting presenters (like the iFixIt guys showing you how to crack open your iPhone 4) that never would have been present in the days of Apple.

In summary, the show is alive and well. The trip was energizing and exactly what I needed to kick off 2011. I’m already making plans for Macworld 2012 (January 25-28).

The Macworld Live Stage and audience pictures are courtesy of Allison Sheridan. is sponsored by Bee Docs Timeline 3D. Make a timeline presentation with your Mac.