U.K. Mac Expo - a complete bust?
Published: Friday, October 27, 2006
iLounge’s Bob Levens is - in a good way - a cheerleader for all good things from the United Kingdom. Based in Cambridge, he frequently keeps us up to date on interesting developments in Great Britain, and has attended the London Mac Expo for us for the last two years. So when Bob comes back from Expo and says that it was unimpressive to the point of making him consider skipping any future visits, we can’t help but take him seriously. His report from the show follows, but suffice to say, we didn’t feel that it was worth the distraction of posting on the main site. Take it away, Bob.
“I was pretty unimpressed; doubt if i’ll bother going again. This is my whole report, don’t think it warrants any more.
Arriving at the station which serves Olympia, I was greeted by a group of people handing out apples and leaflets. Seemed so nice of Apple to provide a healthy snack for travel weary Expo visitors, but not feeling healthy or hungry, I declined the fruit and just took a leaflet. It turned out to be a Greenpeace stunt - they’d been asked to leave the Expo Hall, and took their message onto the street. There were two ‘activists’ outside the main entrance to Olympia also handing out leaflets and fruit - basically the first people you saw as you showed up for this Apple-centric event. If I’d had my wits about me, I would have asked if the fruit was organic and free from any pesticides.
Once inside the hall, I discovered that there was very little in the way to satisfy the iPod visitor - fewer iPod related accessories present than in 2005, which wasn’t exactly a banner year for the Expo. Many of the big names - the ones listed as exhibitors - were actually bundled together under the umbrellas of resellers, not hosting anything of their own. iPod accessory makers who did have their own stands included Contour Design, Gear4, and a company called iTango, who had a new iPod dock on show.
The dock is basically a plastic shell that holds your iPod USB cable inside - seriously - and gives you a place to dock your iPod while still inside a case. Okay, then.
Gear4 showed up with HouseParty 24/7, a dual-alarm AM/FM radio with a LCD clock display that isn’t wicked bright (the LCD backlight has 3 settings) and a 22-button remote control allowing full access to the iPod and radio. Five presets are available via the unit, and the iPod dock’s on top. It also showed BluEye, which offers a Bluetooth hands-free mobile connection, FM radio and remote control, announced and discussed on the site some time ago. Caller ID on the iPod is a pretty good idea.
It wasn’t newsworthy in any way, but one of the biggest iPod accessory demonstrations was from Nike; it had a large area at the rear of the hall with 3 treadmills set up, as well as a bank of iMacs to demonstrate the Nike+iPod Sport Kit system. You’ve already read the reviews months ago; the only changes were new posters showing the Kit in use with current metal nanos rather than the old white and black ones, already found in Nike stores.
After experiencing MacWorld in San Francisco, the Mac Expo in London comes across as a weak, less than noteworthy show for iPod fans, and I have to ask whether I will be going to next year’s event at all. Bear in mind that it may well be fine if you are into the software side of Macs or using Macs for creative projects, but it is definitely not the place to go to see major new iPod-related announcements, even accessories - a real shame. Last year, Monitor Audio and others brought at least a bit of excitement to the floor, which was just missing this time out.
It says something that the highlight of the Expo was Greenpeace’s ambush, and on the accessory side, perhaps Gear4’s BluEye. Does anyone have the ability to liven this event up a bit?”
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