As Macworld UK exclusively reported yesterday (see "Apple pulls out of its own expo...again"), Apple has made the decision to withdraw from Apple Expo 2000. This decision came despite Apple's reassurances in recent months that Apple considers the UK to be an important market, and the Expo to be one of the big five international Apple 'Events'.
The organizers were among the last to know. They are still in communication with Apple, trying to persuade the company to change its mind, but have issued no official statement at this time. In the meantime, Bob Denton, the Apple Expo show director says: "The show has been sold by my company twice over now. We had a 70 per cent sale on the original venue and dates, and significantly more on the new venue and dates with a super line-up of exhibitors booked in - the stage was fully set for a brilliant spring show. You can appreciate how we feel."
The show organizers are currently engaged in meetings in Hamburg, deciding their position. Representatives of the organisers have been in discussion with Apple Europe and Apple US, pressing the company to reconsider the decision. The results of these negotiations are likely to be announced early next week.
Despite the ongoing talks, industry insiders are still reeling from Apple's decision (see "Apple Expo 2000 - exhibitor fury"), though some have a sense of resignation. Ricky Liversidge, Marketing Director at Adobe, says: "I wasn't particularly shocked. I went from the last show to this one. It's only in the last few weeks we have been talking about this event. I asked 'Is this show really happening?' They reassured me it was. It isn't, and I wasn't surprised."
On a marketing level, Liversidge feels that Adobe has other ways of reaching its customers, but says: "From a community point of view, it's deeply disappointing. I think the Macintosh community is incredibly strong. An opportunity has been missed - it is an absolute shame that the community has not got an opportunity to get together, and feed back to manufacturers. It's not necessarily the end of the story, the audience is far too important - perhaps another door shall open."
The Macintosh Community has been making its feelings plain to Macworld, (see "UK angry at Apple no-show"). Central to the community, the User Groups make their feelings plain, David Stewart, chairman of ClubMac, Ireland says: "It's as if Apple's attitude to its loyal British and Irish customers is one of utter contempt. My big worry is that UK and Irish vendors will re-evaluate their commitment to the Mac platform, and the users will suffer in the end."
Ricky Liversidge says: "Apple has taken one of the vehicles to market away. Both market and community are very important." Stewart agrees: "It goes to one of the main attractions of Apple Expo, and the whole Mac-owning experience: the sense of community and the notion that owning a Mac is more than just owning a computer, that you are part of something bigger than just the hardware. Apple needs to think different on this."
Retailers speak their mind too. James Sanson, managing director of Computer's Unlimited said, in a statement: "It's a great shame for the UK Mac market. I feel Apple UK know the importance of a vibrant market, and would like to support the show. The decision stems from the US." He continued: "I hope the organisers find their way to bringing a show together."
All told, for the UK, Ireland and Europe as a whole, Apple's decision to withdraw is yet another PR disaster - at a time when the Apple community, industry and media were all concluding that Apple had really pulled its act together. A letter from Stephen Doherty, a reader concludes: "This is the old Apple all over again, many promises - no delivery."
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