The two biggest annual year-opening tech shows are going in two very different directions.
When the 2012 Macworld iWorld Expo opens this Thursday, January 26, it will be to substantially less hype than its rival tech conference CES (Consumer Electronics Show). CES 2012 pulled in a record attendance of more than 150,000 attendees at this year's show in Las Vegas, while the projected attendance of Macworld 2012 is around 25,000.
The temptation would be to say that CES is now hotter and more relevant than the Macworld Expo. That temptation, however, would be some out-to-lunch baloney.
While CES represents an abundance of quantity, the Macworld conference represents an abundance of quality. And quality usually kicks quantity's rear end.
The growing differences beween the Macworld show and CES speak to more than just attendance, and these differences are not an accident. Macworld is now a consumer show, aimed at giving you -- the gadget buyer -- a sneak peak at the greatest Mac gear for which you'll lust this year, and the know-how to use it once it hits your hot little hands.
CES is a distributor's trade show. It's an opportunity for sales reps in suits to talk to retailers in suits. CES is a middleman's show, and my gender-exclusive wording there is not uncalled for.
The consumer focus of Macworld creates a different and distinctly more human culture than the distributor focus of CES. Simply put, Macworld is still hands-down the industry's coolest show for everyday tech users. Allow me to illustrate why with a few examples.
Macworld is for You, CES is for Your Boss. Despite having the word "Consumer" in its name, CES is not actually intended for consumers. It's a closed show that is not open to everyday consumers. The Consumer Electronics Show is geared more toward sales executives, retail chain suppliers and people who remember to put cover sheets on their TPS Reports.
Let's look at a quote from the SF Chronicle's recent article,"Is CES the New Macworld?" The CMO of a marketing firm tells the Chron, "(CES) gives us an opportunity to find new distributors. Macworld lost that B2B connection, and so I can target a lot more consumers with the same dollars directly here."
Does that really sound like the kind of guy you would want to party with?
Macworld is More Affordable and Easier to Attend. At just one week before the conference, a Macworld iFan pass is still available for $100. This pass is good for all three days of the expo.
One week before CES, this pass would have cost $200. And they probably would have rejected your $200 for inadequate credentials. CES is forbidden territory for everyday people who do not hold elevated job titles at electronics companies.
Snooki Will Not Be at Macworld. Snooki was in attendance at CES. Snooki will not be in attendance at Macworld.
Advantage Macworld, for reasons which ought to be exceedingly obvious.
Macworld is for Macheads and Apple Enthusiasts. At Macworld, you will not have to walk past a quarter-mile of HDTVs, automobiles and washer-dryer machines before you see anything interesting.
You Can Get Good Wireless Reception at Macworld. San Francisco's Moscone Center has its own dedicated wireless network, ensuring conference attendees receive superior wireless coverage throughout the event.
CES 2012, with more than 150,000 attendees, was described by Gizmodo as a "wireless flustercuck that is probably the world's largest gathering of data-eating smartphones, dongles and hotspots."
Imagine that -- Macworld is a personal technology conference where you can actually use your wireless personal technology.
Macworld Will Not Offend You With Relentless Sexism. You know, schools like Stanford and UC-Berkeley turn out plenty of highly qualified female technicians and engineers. At Macworld, these women might seen speaking at a Women in Technology roundtable, or showing their work in the Digital Art Gallery.
At CES, these women are more likely to be seen dressed all hoochie and employed in the eye candy capacity as "booth babes." "Being here at these conferences and seeing these women in their booth babe attire, I'm not sure if it's degrading so much as it is uncomfortable," tech writer Molly McHugh told the BBC at this year's CES. "It's sending this message of what my sex is here to do, and I obviously don't feel that way. I'd rather be learning about the products."
At Macworld, female product representatives are likely to be dressed in the exact same attire as their male counterparts. At CES, ummm, not so much.
So if you were left out of this year's CES festivities, realize the best is still yet to come. Macworld iWorld 2012 is the consumer electronics show that actually allows consumers to attend, and blows their minds when they do so.
For more of Allvoices' coverage of Macworld | iWorld 2012, check out allvoices.com/macworld2012.