Yesterday I did some general reminiscing about exhibiting Accordance at MacWorld for the past decade. Today I want to give you a report from the show floor and list, in no particular order, some of my most memorable MacWorld moments.
The reports I'm getting from my coworkers are that traffic in the exhibit halls definitely seems to be down this year as opposed to previous years—not a big surprise considering the state of the economy, the cost of travel, and the recent announcement that Apple will no longer participate in MacWorld after this year. In spite of this, those people who are attending are as enthusiastic as ever, and the energy level is high. Plenty of people are stopping by the Accordance booth, so our crew is still keeping busy. A couple of my coworkers have mentioned to me that they've had quite a few users stop by simply to express their appreciation for Accordance.
Getting to meet our users face to face has been one of the most enjoyable benefits of exhibiting at MacWorld. I've met long-time users there who have been with us since Accordance 1.0, along with enthusiastic new users eager to learn how to use Accordance more effectively. I've also met Mac journalists, Apple employees, other Mac software developers, and members of the Christian Macintosh Users' Group I've been a part of for many years. It's been a pleasure to chat with each of them, and I apologize for all the times I had to cut those conversations short because someone else came up wanting to see a demo of Accordance.
Besides all the wonderful people I've met, here are a few of my other most memorable MacWorld moments:
I'll never forget the MacWorld when Apple introduced the iPod. I remember thinking they were cool, but that $350 was way too much to spend on a music player. I also remember thinking that "iPod" was a stupid name that didn't mean anything. Shows what I know!
Another hardware introduction highlight was the introduction of the Cube. Yes it was overpriced and underpowered compared with the PowerMac line, but it was undeniably cool. My favorite thing about it was the way CD-ROMs would pop-up out of the top of the Cube, much like toast out of a toaster.
The last hardware introduction I'll mention is the MacBook Air. Apple had them suspended and rotating inside these lighted acrylic cases, and they were surrounded by people taking pictures and video. Seeing these techno-worshipers paying homage at the shrine of the MacBook Air, it was hard to deny that Apple has something of a cult-like following!
My last MacWorld in New York was the summer of 2002. Several of us stayed an extra day after the show and visited Ground Zero. It was a gorgeous day, a fact which made the devastation we were seeing seem even more palpable and tragic.
At another New York MacWorld, Sinbad, the comedian and actor, stopped by our booth for a demo and purchased Accordance for his father, who is a Baptist minister. After that, it was not uncommon to see Sinbad roaming the halls of MacWorld, both in New York and in San Francisco.
Yesterday I wrote about the challenges of catching Steve Jobs' keynote from the floor of the exhibit hall. That wasn't the case for Mark his first year helping out at MacWorld. Mark came hurrying in just as the show floor opened that year apologizing for not getting there sooner. He explained that he had become part of a crowd that he thought was headed for the exhibit hall, but which actually ended up sweeping him into the hall where the keynote was being held! You have to understand our jealousy at that point. An exhibitor badge will not get you into the keynote, so none of us had ever actually been to the keynote. But here this new guy comes along and somehow gets past the door and into the keynote! Worse still, this was one of the few years when Apple was giving stuff away to everyone in the keynote audience. That year, I believe Apple had given everyone a new optical mouse. Yet when we asked Mark if he had gotten the mouse, he said that he had gotten nervous about being late to the booth, so he had left before the keynote had ended! I've always wondered what Jobs thought about someone standing up and shuffling out in the middle of his keynote—I don't imagine it happened very often. At any rate, we told Mark he should have just stayed there until the end of the keynote. We had more than enough people to man the booth during the first hour, particularly since most people go straight to the Apple booth after the keynote. If it had been Mark's second year at MacWorld, he would have known better. Then again, if he had known better, he might never have followed the crowd into the keynote in the first place!
Another MacWorld moment we laugh about now (though we didn't laugh at the time), was when we left a brand new projector on the curb of the Moscone center as we were getting into a cab to go to the airport. It wasn't until we were at the airport checking our baggage that we realized the projector had been left behind! This was back when projectors were prohibitively expensive, and we had invested in this one right before MacWorld. Losing it would have eaten up most of our profits from the show. We frantically began calling people at the Moscone center hoping against hope that some honest person had found it on the curb and turned it in some place where we could recover it. As it turned out, a Moscone center security guard had done just that, and we were able to have it shipped to us after the show. The person who was responsible for the projector has never quite lived down the fact that he forgot it. Neither has he failed to appreciate the honesty of that security guard!
In San Francisco we developed a number of company traditions. Most days we were too tired to go anywhere at night except to dinner and back to the hotel, but we would always set aside one night to ride the cable cars down to Fisherman's Wharf and get hot chocolate at the Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory. A few nights there was even a saxophonist playing jazz tunes in Ghirardelli square. It was always a romantic atmosphere, and those were the moments when I most wished my wife was there with me. I would have to settle for buying some hot chocolate mix to bring back to her.
Speaking of Cable Cars, I'll never forget the time when we took a cable car back to the hotel from Fisherman's wharf. As we were ascending an incredibly steep hill, a teenage boy began racing our cable car up the hill on foot! I would have had a heart attack about ten steps in, but this kid stayed neck and neck with us for a good 100 yards or more. The entire cable car was cheering him on by the time he finally pulled up and stopped. Talk about a strenuous workout regimen!
Another San Francisco MacWorld tradition was eating dinner at a wonderful Afghani restaurant, the name of which escapes me. Getting there was always an adventure, because it was located right in the middle of a rather seedy part of town, but the food and atmosphere inside the restaurant were always fantastic. The coffee-drinkers among us would end the meal with Turkish coffee, and would suddenly find renewed energy at the end of a long day.
There are plenty of other MacWorld moments I could mention, but I suppose I've gone on long enough. MacWorld has been a major emphasis for OakTree Software over the past ten years, and we've had fun being a part of it.