Weekly News & Insights: Death of a Trade Show

Photo © FreeImages.com/melodi2

Photo © FreeImages.com/melodi2

Last week, IDG World Expo announced that it’s long-running Macworld/iWorld event was “going on hiatus” in 2015. Here is their complete announcement:

“We are announcing today that Macworld/iWorld is going on hiatus, and will not be taking place as planned in 2015. Our MacIT event, the world’s premiere event for deploying Apple in the enterprise, will continue next year with details to be announced in the coming weeks.

Since 1985, Macworld events have brought together a community to celebrate the incredible innovations that Apple has brought into the world, shining a spotlight on the developers who add value to the user’s experience in infinite ways. As Apple products and the related ecosystem have changed, so has the marketplace, and we are proud to have played a part in that evolution. Literally thousands of companies and hundreds of products have come to market at Macworld, and countless professional relationships have been forged. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Apple community for allowing us to host these events and be a part of the incredible story that is the Apple market.

We are committed via our MacIT event to bringing together the product developers innovating with enterprise iOS and OS X based solutions, and the growing legion of professionals empowering their organizations through these tools. We are exploring exciting new partnerships, venues and delivery opportunities through which MacIT can continue to serve this market, and we look forward to announcing our plans for this event within the next few months.”

At first glance, this announcement seems odd. Could there be something else going on behind the scenes? After all, the Mac community is still booming and there’s no shortage of potential exhibitors and attendees. Sure, the show faced challenges after Apple pulled out as the major exhibitor in 2009, but things seemed to be humming along. After all, it was still the world’s largest gathering place for Apple fans and had shifted to focus more on the exploding world of iOS app developers and accessories. Here’s what Paul Kent, vice president and general manager of Macworld/iWorld had to say after this year’s show (full post-show recap here):

“Macworld/iWorld 2014 was an inspiring showcase of new innovations, insight and learning opportunities that gave attendees a glimpse of where technology will take us. When you have thousands of Apple ecosystem stakeholders together under one roof, you can’t help but be overwhelmed by the passion, collaboration and ingenuity that underpins both the outstanding sessions we host, and the cutting-edge technology displayed on the Expo Hall floor. With the pace of innovation today, we cannot wait to see what Macworld/iWorld 2015 has in store.”

Didn’t sound like that was the end of it all. And here’s what first-time exhibitor Bob Zajeski had to say:

“2014 was our first year at Macworld/iWorld and on day-one, within two hours we sold out of our Grip&Shoot and had to overnight more product for our Apple fans. Macworld/iWorld exceeded our expectations and with this positive experience under our belt we are excited to return in 2015. If you are an early stage, nimble company – Macworld/iWorld is a great place to gain exposure and interact with the early adopters and technology savvy crowds that Macworld/iWorld draws.”

Hmmmm … makes you wonder what the exhibitors are thinking. Did they see this coming? And here’s something else to add to the overall picture: a few weeks ago IDG also announced the end of the print version of Macworld, leaving only the digital edition, so perhaps there are bigger financial issues at play.

So does this leave a hole in the Apple market for someone else to fill? Or has the era of a niche Mac-only trade show run its course after 30 years in favor of a mega-show like the International CES? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. And if you’ve ever attended Macworld, I’d love to hear your reaction and insights. And yes, I’m jealous! It’s one show that had been on my bucket-list for years, but now it looks like I’ll never get to attend.

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Marlys Arnold

With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. Exhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community.

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