PR Disaster, Boston-Style (1/22/04)

Gee, how very strange; every time we visit the Macworld Expo web site in hopes of finding info about registering as an exhibitor at the upcoming Boston show in July, all we see is information on the San Francisco show that ended two weeks ago. Indeed, the only reference to the Boston gig this summer is a quick location and date on the Future Events page. Now, we've never really bothered checking before, so it's entirely possible that IDG is always this late taking down outdated information ("Excitement and anticipation is building for the SF 2004 event!"). On the other hand, it's also not inconceivable that IDG is desperately clinging to its past and can't bear to face what the future holds-- because so far, it ain't lookin' pretty.

Drama fiends are no doubt well aware of the controversy surrounding the summer show's move back to Boston after a six-year stint in the Big Apple, but here's the quick recap for those in the dark: IDG announces the show's moving back to Boston, Apple announces it won't attend, IDG makes vague threats not to let Apple come to the San Francisco show, Apple laughs a little and decides to reduce its presence in New York as well, IDG gets new management and "reevaluates" the venue switch, IDG somehow decides to move the show to Boston after all, Apple shrugs and says "it's your funeral," and exhibitors stay away in droves. Now them's good eatin'!

Well, with almost six months to go before the Boston show is slated to open, this tussle obviously isn't over just yet-- and Think Secret has a heaping helping of dirt to dish on the subject. As of right now, it seems that both sides have dug in their heels, with an Apple exec having remarked a couple of weeks ago that "there's not a chance in hell we'll change our minds and exhibit in Boston" because "Steve doesn't think it's in Apple's best interest," while IDG allegedly remains "adamant that the Boston show will go ahead as planned, even if it loses money." In other words, this is a big game of chicken with each driver counting on the other to flinch before both die in a fiery cataclysm. Fun fun fun 'til Daddy takes the corporations away. And time's running out, at least for IDG; it can't very well decide in June to move the show back to New York and still have time to pull everything together.

The interesting bit (oh, who are we kidding-- every bit is the interesting bit) is that if the Boston show turns out to be a yawner or it folds due to lack of interest, to Wall Street and the public at large that translates into a dying Mac platform, so Apple really has a lot more to lose than IDG. But as every Steve-watcher knows, the man has a stubborn streak so wide he needs to transport it on special access roads, and you just can't count on him to make rational business decisions when he gets his mind set in stone. If IDG is really counting on him to jerk the wheel and exhibit in Boston after all because it'd be best for Apple, its shareholders, and the Mac platform as a whole, there's a big ol' fireball fixin' to happen. Bring marshmallows; we'll make s'mores.

By the way, if things continue down the path they're on now and the Boston show goes ahead sans Apple, we're willing to do our part to salvage the event. Even with a reduced Apple presence, the general consensus seems to be that last summer's show was a mere shell of its former self mostly because it lacked a Stevenote. Well, we here at the AtAT compound may have no new product announcements, no Reality Distortion Fields, and no public speaking skills whatsoever (plus our names aren't "Steve"), but we do have black mock turtlenecks and a staunchly loyal viewership that could theoretically attract dozens of attendees. Plus, Katie can tap-dance a little and Jack can make his knees crack in an amusing fashion. So IDG, if you're interested in booking an AtATnote, have your people do lunch with our people. Did we mention that Anya has a wide repertoire of silly walks?

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The above scene was taken from the 1/22/04 episode:

January 22, 2004: For some reason, Microsoft goes telling the press that the Mac will expand its market share over the next few years. Meanwhile, the fate of July's Macworld Expo still hangs in the balance, and people are using GarageBand and Soundtrack to remix the animal-like exclamations of presidential candidates into works of art...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 4460: 'Cause Redmond Said So! (1/22/04)   Sick of seeing Apple's personal computer market share stuck down in the two to three percent range when the numbers come out each quarter? Well, hey, don't pout about it; we have it on good authority that the Mac is about to experience a definite market share increase over the course of the next few years...

  • 4462: It's What Art Is All About (1/22/04)   Still not convinced that GarageBand is the killer app that'll revolutionize music production for the masses in much the same way that iMovie made desktop video a reality and WYSIWYG and the LaserWriter spawned a zillion homemade newsletters?...

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