But What of the Little Guy?

With Apple's announcement that Macworld 2009 would be their last, the Apple news sites are awash with discussion of what it means for Apple and whether IDG will be able to hold another Macworld conference without their participation. Many have pointed out that Apple doesn't need Macworld to promote their products, especially since they are clearly moving deeper into the consumer electronics space where mainstream media reports their new products and their core users are no longer Mac fanboys. They have noted that being tied to a January date to be expected to announce new products is damaging to their stock price, their products and their personal schedule. They have demonstrated that they can hold small, product specific launches in Cupertino and get just as much coverage at a lower cost. So it makes sense for Apple to pull out of Macworld, but what are the ramifications for the smaller exhibitor? The hype that surrounds Macworld each year ensures that the tech press is sharply focused on Apple for the first week of the year, which gives the little guy a chance to get their product in the limelight. People like Delicious Monster pretty much made their business on the back of the glowing reviews surrounding their product at Macworld. In 2009, Things will get its official launch at Macworld and will no doubt garner many a virtual column inch. Boutique iPod case manufacturers get a chance to show off their products to millions around the world if the likes of Engadget takes a fancy to their wares. Macworld is unique in trade shows where the focus is less on putting companies in touch with distributors and retailers and more on letting the end user see what you produce via the blogs, rumour sites and tech reviewers who are all out in force at Macworld. Assuming that the conference does manage to struggle on for another couple of years, what coverage is it really going to get without the juggernaut that is the Apple speculation machine drawing the press to the hallowed halls of Moscone West? Where will these small developers of awesome apps, beautiful accessories and crazy dock-connecting gadgets get a chance to have their fifteen minutes? Apple may not be losing out by their withdrawal, but the ecosystem surrounding them could be in for a rude awakening.