A change in the way attendance is audited has led to dramatically lower figures for Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco 2004 compared to last year's event.

Event organizer IDG revealed that 32,409 people were logged as attending the show – compared with 90,473 in 2003.

However, show organizer IDG World Expo stressed that these numbers do not mean a third fewer people attended this year's event.

IDG World Expo group vice president Warwick Davies told MacCentral: "IDG World Expo's new president David Korse wanted to put a standard in place whereby the attendance at all of our shows could be audited by a third party.

"Attendance was previously assessed using a turnstile approach. This means that if someone attended the show on three separate days they were counted three times for the attendance records.

"Other IT tradeshows will send out badges to people they think will attend and count that number for attendance, whether the people actually show up or not."

Although he accepts that attendance numbers are important, Davies is not concerned that the perception of lower Expo attendance will have a detrimental affect on exhibitors signing up.

"I believe that companies put more weight in the quality of people they talk to at an Expo, instead of sheer numbers. The companies that monitor a tradeshow, monitor the number of leads that they got from the show, " he said.

Boston Beckons Davies admits that the Boston show will be "challenging in a number of ways".

Apple has already announced that it will not be attending the show, but Davies doesn't think that this will be a problem. "Exhibitors aren't selling to Apple, they are selling to the community. If exhibitors sense that the community will be there and they can do business, then they will want to be involved."