Apple Expo Paris this year has fewer exhibitors than in 2000, but those at the show are of higher quality, a show insider told Macworld.

The event, which has historically attracted an 80 per cent French audience, continues to form a focus for the French Mac market to meet its customers. Early estimates suggest that up to 80,000 Mac fans should attend the show.

Iomega's Peter Wharton said: "Response to the 750MB Zip drive has been excellent. We are seeing a lot of traffic at our stall." The company's two-tier stand is unique at the event, and is designed to push the re-focused company's determination to prosper and grow in the Mac market. "We have a long-standing commitment to the Mac market," he explained.

Mac music One major focus of activity – the music making area – saw crowds around Steinberg's stand, watching reps put Cubase SX through its paces. Though it's only available for PCs today, the company's Jean-Marc Thiebaud, managing director of Steinberg France, confirmed a Mac OS X version of the application will ship within weeks.

Another show highlight, the Detto Technologies stand, gave European Mac users a chance to get hands on experience with the company's aid for switching to Mac. The solution was demonstrated at Macworld Expo, New York, earlier this year. Frank Coyle, vice president of marketing at Detto, told Macworld: "We should be shipping the product in Europe in or around October-time. We are just finalizing the distribution for the product in the UK."

Parlez-vous Francais? Eh? Coyle also complained: "It's a good event, and we are generating a lot of interest, but it's difficult as we only speak a little French. We asked Apple before the event if we would need French speakers, and they told us it would be OK, as everyone in France spoke English."

An anonymous representative from connectivity company Griffin Technology also complained: "We were told we wouldn't need French translators on our stand." Like many exhibitors at the show, Griffin bought no new product here, but was displaying its USB-based solution for Macs unequipped with an audio-line-in port. This saw widespread use across the music area of the show floor, where many companies showed their solutions running on flat-panel iMacs.

Reaction to the keynote speech, delivered yesterday, was relatively muted – though attendees cheered Jobs on, there was no "one more thing" in terms of hardware to excite the crowd.

Markus Feichtner, from German development company Infeurope, observed: "They announced no new hardware, I would have like to see new PowerBooks at the show. iCal is nice, but for the most part it was the same as at Macworld Expo, New York."

Low key Thierry Dumas, a French Mac fan, is impressed with iCal, but felt hurt that Apple had no major announcement for Europe. "It's a shame," he said, "perhaps Apple felt it would not be appropriate to make a major hardware announcement the night before September 11."

Many attendees had hoped to see Apple announce an iPhoto update that would bring photo printing directly from within iPhoto. Many felt that the lack of a Paris announcement for this was a wasted opportunity.

Though this feature is late in arrival, insider sources confirmed Apple is working toward bringing it to European users, but could not yet comment on its schedule. The company is also working toward bringing UK content to Sherlock 3.

Seminar schedule Apple delivered a programme of seminars and conferences throughout the day, which attracted major crowds. These events appeared valuable to many at the show. "It's answered many of my questions," remarked one attendee following Apple's Xserve and Mac OS X server conference. Apple also highlighted a pre-release version of the Xserve RAID system it plans to release later this year.

Adobe and Macromedia also appeared at the European event, showing their solutions to a curious crowd. Neither company appeared at Macworld Expo, New York. An Adobe representative, who declined to be named, said: "We still maintain a major commitment to the Mac market."

Apple Expo Paris is a buyers show – throughout the event, enthusiastic Europeans picked up the kit they needed from French resellers. The resellers reported good-as-expected sales, and looked forward to a "steady" week at the show.

Other show highlights included the Games and Entertainment area. Here, European gamers seized the chance for a first look at localized versions of such titles as: Age of Empires II; Civilisation III; Medal of Honor; and The Sims. Attendees queued for their chance to indulge in these games in an area that saw steady traffic throughout the day.

UK presence at the show seemed limited, though UK Mac users can look forward to MacExpo 2002 at Islington's Business Design Centre between November 21 and 23.