Thoughts from Apple Expo Paris
I've just got back from my final interview at Apple Expo. Actually my final interview wasn't at the Expo itself, but rather over at Adobe's offices here in Paris. That's interesting in itself because the reason I met Adobe marketing director Robert Raiola in the Paris office is because Adobe doesn't actually have a stand at Apple Expo this year.
Adobe's presence at the Mac show is minimal – they are there, but on another company's booth. Raiola confirmed that his company's decision not to dedicate resources to the Expo this year was threefold. (1) Adobe are holding Adobe Max in Barcelona next month and decided to dedicate resources to that show. (2) Adobe's big story right now in the Mac market is video – with the launch of Premiere for Mac – and they will be attending Satis, a big video event in Paris, very soon. (3) Over the last few years Adobe has seen the Apple Expo get more and more consumer focused, become more of an iPod show, and from Adobe's perspective they have seen fewer and fewer of their professional customers at the show.
It seems that other Mac-focused companies may also have stayed away from the show. One manufacturer who's booth was near the back of the show floor commented that his company had taken exactly the same position at last year's show and had felt like they were right in the middle of things. This year there seemed to be a lot of wasted space between him and the far wall.
Interestingly, despite the reoccurring claims that the show is becoming more and more consumer, one exhibitor who makes professional storage products said that they felt the type of people attending the show this year were less consumer than in previous years, claiming to have picked up a number of exciting sales leads on the first day.
However, while the quality of visitors to the Expo might have been good, the number of exhibitors certainly seemed to be down on previous years.
Despite this the future of the show does not appear to be in doubt. There is still a feeling on the show floor that this continues to be the premier Mac event in Europe – even though Apple no longer hosts keynotes at the show, or for that matter even has it's latest products at the show. Disappointment hangs in the air because Apple isn't even showing off the iPod touch at it's tiny booth, let alone the iPhone.
Anyone who wants to get their hands on an iPhone is advised to visit any one of the iPod peripheral makers showing of their iPhone cases at the show – both Gear4 and Contour Design were happily showing consumers iPhones concealed in protective cases (even though the public was clearly more interested in what lay within).
Not surprisingly, a large number of iPod-related gadgets are launching at the show: Griffin is showing off its Eclipse speakers; as well as iPhone cases; Gear4 has new iPod cases and new Bluetooth speakers on show; Sennheiser also has a range of new speakers; Roxio was showing off Popcorn 3 with it's ability to convert movies for the iPhone; Bose had its new Portable SoundDock and Music Monitor speaker products; and Logitech was showing off its Pure-fi Dream iPod alarm clock and new iPod speakers.
Perhaps the most interesting iPod/iPhone related product announcement at the show was from Elgato. That company was demonstrating new EyeTV software that makes it possible to stream video content from your Mac onto your iPhone or iPod touch – a great way to get around the small capacity of the two products. The company revealed that it is also possible to stream content from your Mac at home to your iPhone via a WiFi internet connection. An excellent solution for business travellers attending Mac shows… If we gave official awards for Best of Show at Apple Expo Paris, this would be mine.
Still in the consumer marketplace, but moving away from iPod, Wacom was demonstrating its new strategy with its new Bamboo tablets designed for the consumer market. The company emphasises that it is not moving away from its traditional professional market and promises exciting new products in the next few weeks.
Of the software developers, it seemed that Intego was the only company demonstrating something truly new at the show. File Guard X4 is that company's new encryption software.
Microsoft was at the show, but with no real news of the next version of Office for Mac. Despite calling for a meeting with press attending Apple Expo, that company only announced US pricing for the new suite of Office software. No new features were revealed.
Unlike Adobe, Quark was making use of its booth at the show demonstrating its products. That company was also running training sessions from another booth. Quark wasn't announcing anything specific at the show, but watch this space for some interesting news in the next few weeks…
Iomega was getting ready for the launch of Leopard – expected next month – with the launch of a new range of hard drives, six in total. The perfect supplement to Leopard's TimeMachine feature.
Interestingly Leopard was a less popular topic of conversation on the show floor than anticipated. With it's launch due next month it seemed to have been forgotten about in the excitement about the iPhone. Some were suggesting that the new operating system is sure to launch near the beginning of October, given that Apple has already delayed it from April. However, one developer who has been party to recent beta's of the new OS X suggested that there is still a lot of work to be done. That source doesn't expect to see the launch of Leopard until the end of October.
The MacExpo in London just happens to fall at the end of October, but it is very unlikely that the launch of Leopard would tie in with the London show. Given the fact that Apple has failed to launch any products at the Paris show for the last few years, why would it premier anything at the London show. Perhaps, like Adobe, Apple feels that the future of the European Apple Expo's is in doubt.