As registration opens, Macworld Expo unveils new name, focus

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The organizers of Macworld Expo believe that it’s an iWorld after all. And they’ve got the name change to prove it.

When it kicks off January 26, 2012, the long-running Mac conference and exposition will do so under a new name: Macworld|iWorld. The name change reflects the event’s focus expanding beyond the Mac to include iOS devices and software. Registration for the three-day event began on Tuesday.

“The brand is evolving from Macworld [Expo] to Macworld|iWorld to illustrate that the show is about the whole ecosystem of Apple products,” said Paul Kent, the event’s vice president and general manager.

The exhibits and conference sessions that have characterized past expos remain with Macworld|iWorld. But show organizers are also adding elements aimed at providing what Kent characterized as a “dynamic culture experience.” The Music Experience showcase, for example, will feature live performances and talks from musicians who use Apple technology in their music. For example, scheduled performers include Atomic Tom, the band that used iPhones to perform songs on a New York subway train last year. Kent also says that the Music Experience will extend beyond the expo’s scheduled hours and Moscone West home base to include evening events.

Attendees enter the 2011 Macworld Expo at Moscone West this past January.

Another new addition, the Film Event, will highlight the use of Apple technology in movies and TV shows. Macworld|iWorld will include screenings of movies and TV programs created on the iPhone and iPad as well as talks with directors and filmmakers. The Film Event will be highlighted by a screening of South Park’s unaired pilot episode followed by a Q&A session with staff from the long-running animated series.

Macworld|iWorld also brings back some of the art exhibits from previous shows with an expanded Art Showings element that will highlight photography and digital art galleries. Artists will also present at the show.

The retooled conference will retain its training sessions, which are now billed as Tech Talks. Kent says that more than 75 talks are currently scheduled, including educational sessions, how-to presentations, and tips-and-tricks demos. New to the show this year is the Macworld|iWorld RapidFire session, a two-hour event made up of five-minute presentations.

While Macworld|iWorld is emphasizing all of Apple’s platforms, don’t expect OS X to get lost in the shuffle. In fact, Kent says, the biggest request from attendees has been to increase the amount of Mac software on display at the show. To that end, organizers are introducing a new package for OS X developers to encourage them to display their wares at the show without the expense of having an elaborate booth.

“We want a heavy influence of OS X developers on the show floor this year,” Kent said.

iOS app makers will also be out in full force, as the Mobile Apps Showcase returns for the third consecutive year. Organizers plan an area featuring what they’re billing as “Top Apps of All Time,” while another area will highlight hidden mobile gems. Attendees will have the chance to submit their favorite apps and vote on the ones they’d like to see showcased at Macworld|iWorld, Kent says.

HP, Polk Audio, and Sennheiser are among the exhibitors who’ve already signed on to have a presence on the Macworld|iWorld show floor, according to Kent. Organizers are expecting to have 300 exhibitors at the 2012 show, up from the 265 or so who attended the 2011 edition.

The name change and revised content marks the biggest change for the 27-year-old Mac conference since Apple stopped participating following the 2009 Macworld Expo. The company has radically scaled back its involvement in all trade shows, saying that its network of 300-plus Apple Stores around the globe gives it enough access to Apple customers.

The 2010 and 2011 editions of Macworld Expo were well-attended, which Kent sees as evidence that there’s a core constituency for the event. By retooling the conference and expo, Kent thinks there’s an opportunity to still serve those long-time attendees while also expanding the show’s boundaries to attract people who haven’t attended Expo before.

“We have a great core audience, but there’s a great opportunity to evolve the event,” Kent said.

Event packages and prices are also changing along with the name. A new Macworld iFan Pass gives attendees access to tech talks and the exhibit floor, as well as the music, film, and art components of the show. The iFan Pass is currently available for $75. There’s also an exhibit-only pass for the expo show floor and Macworld Live stage; exhibit-only attendees will also have access to the Macworld|iWorld midway, an area on one of the upper floors at Moscone West that will feature digital classrooms, music demonstrations, and a hands-on wireless headphone display.

Macworld|iWorld runs from January 26 to January 28, 2012 at the Moscone West convention center in San Francisco. Event organizer IDG World Expo is owned by IDG, the same parent company that owns Macworld.

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