MacExpo 2005 has been and gone, with organisers XPO Events claiming yet more success for the home-grown Apple show.
Attendance at the show’s new home, London's Olympia exhibition centre, reached 25,000, they said. The show also hosted “185 exhibiting brands”, XPO Events said, up from 130 in 2004. There were 102 stands (there were 79 in 2004), meaning a chance to meet the market was boosted by the 25 per cent increase in floor space at the show.
Exhibition coordinator Matt Denton said: “The move to Olympia was a roaring success. The one floor fits all approach made it very easy for visitors to see all the exhibiting brands and navigate the show floor, taking in everything on offer.
“Many exhibitors embraced this move and invested heavily in the stands, putting on a huge number of seminars ensuring visitors got all the latest information on new technologies and solutions.”
Apple ships “Expo nano”
Many on the show floor were dismayed at Apple’s decision - apparently revealed just weeks before the event - to reduce the size of its stand. There was no large seminar theatre and a smaller presence than people have grown to expect from the company.
The new-look “Apple nano” stand is in Cupertino’s new corporate look, Grey. Because many visitors had expected a more monumental presence, they complained the company’s stand was “hard to find”.
“Even a giant illuminated Apple logo suspended from the ceiling would have made a difference,” one showgoer observed.
Stall holders felt that Apple’s decision changed the way visitors travelled around the event, changing anticipated traffic patterns and anecdotally affecting sales from some stores.
Apple sources indicated that the decision to employ a smaller stand was “out of Cupertino”, meaning local Apple exhibition staff were unable to adjust it to fit local market needs.
Exhibitors happy, return in 2006
Despite such reservations, exhibitors emerged happy from the show.
Computers Unlimited director Richard Love said: "Good to see the show return to its original home. We've had a fantastic three days with particular interest in Wacom's professional graphics solutions and our 'Digital Entertainment Zone'.”
Rapid Group managing director Garrett Doyle said: "We've seen a lot of really high-end customers from both print and workflow environments and we're very happy with visitor interest in our products - particularly Epson and Xerox."
FileMaker marketing manager Jim Kinloch was also buoyant: "FileMaker has done extremely well at the show. We've been delighted with the number of people interested in the FileMaker Pro 8 Upgrade and we're very pleased to have been awarded Best of Show by Macworld. We'll most certainly be back next year."
The organisers claim around 60 per cent of exhibitors have already rebooked for next year’s show. MacExpo takes place at Olympia once again in 2006 between October 26-28.
MacExpo has become a key event in every Mac user’s calendar.
London-based lingerie designer Frauke Nagel said: “I design on a Mac and come to the show every year.”
Design lecturer Gareth Oddie said: “We've spent two days at MacExpo this year - we didn't have time to see everything yesterday. I'm a design lecturer so the seminars and demos are particularly interesting and I've used the sessions to pick up application and technology teaching techniques.”
First-timers also enjoyed the show. Graphic designer Leanne Johnson came all the way from Newcastle to check the event out for the first time: “This is my first visit and there is much more here than I expected. I'm really enjoying the show, the seminars are extremely interesting and I'll be taking away some very useful knowledge.”
Guitar and Music
Saturday saw a special free music creation event for guitarists.
Hosted by Apple, Fender, Focusrite, Hal-Leonard, Motu and special guest guitarists Dominic Miller, Ben Lacy and Jay Roberts, a group of music and Mac-loving creatives sat down for an extensive briefing on Apple’s technologies for music.
Artist Clare Tovey attended the event, and was impressed: “The guitar and Mac event was fabulous”, she said. “A guitarist did an hour's demonstration of the various things guitar players can do with GarageBand, Logic, and third-party plug-ins. Three excellent guitar players and a percussionist did an hour's set which was recorded live and will be posted on Apple’s website for us to play around with.”
Tovey learned a lot from the event: “The whole thing was very useful: I definitely learn better by demonstration than reading, and I found out the the part of the process I had missed, so I have just spent an hour happily playing around with GarageBand and actually recorded something,” she said.