U.K. Mac Expo - a complete bust? | iLounge Backstage


U.K. Mac Expo - a complete bust?

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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It is a “Mac” Expo, not an “iPod” expo, but it’s interesting to note that there are far fewer iPod exhibitors than in Paris. Perhaps the London expo is still too young to attract a lot of companies, who may already have committed their marketing budgets to Paris? However, Apple’s first-time presence suggests that London will continue, so time will tell.

Posted by Kirk McElhearn on October 28, 2006 at 3:34 AM (CDT)


I realise it’s not an iPod Expo, but bearing in mind the huge slice of the Apple pie that is the iPod, the paucity of iPod related manufacturers and accessories is disappointing.

And from the report I read of the Paris Expo this year the emphasis was squarely on the iPod.
There were definately less iPod specific products on display. Sure there were cabinets full of iPod accessories dotted around the hall but there was nothing we haven’t seen before and most of the ‘big’ names were on stands belonging to retail stores like Computer Warehouse or Computers Unlimited.

If you were at MacExpo for the general Mac experience it was fine - but many people in the UK don’t travel to Paris or to San Francisco to visit these events and London is the only chance they might have. If I was a noob and hoping to see something neat I would have come away disappointed as well. It was a bit like a glorified computer fair….

I read that MacGeneration reported that attendance was down at Paris this year by 10,000 - and the figures for London last year, 25,000, getting close to the MWSF figure of 38,441 indicates it is not a fledgling event. 

And Apple were at London last year.

Posted by Bob Levens in UK on October 28, 2006 at 5:56 AM (CDT)


I agree with Kirk. It is not an iPod expo and to think that iPod is a huge slice of Apple’s profitable pie is a misinterpretation. You may be speaking from a PC users perspective that’s why you weren’t impressed. The iPod is a huge slice of Apples publicity pie but revenue is still determined by their legacy products. How many iPods do you have to sell to equate to the profit of a iMac, Macbook Pro, or Mac Pro? Quite a few… New iPod accessory vendors must also make decisions about where to spend their marketing dollars. I am sure they are saving up for MWSF 2007. Most of them are too small and cannot afford to do all the Expo’s.

Also, Apple’s marketshare grew considerably this year not in the MP3 player market but in the PC market. People are tired of PC’s and are looking for a UNIX solution that’s reliable and works. Obviously the international market is more difficult because people have been demoralized of any other alternative other than Wintel machines. Yes I am biased, but I challenge you to buy and use a Mac and then we’ll see if you ever go back.

Posted by Vikash on October 28, 2006 at 12:35 PM (CDT)


I am talking as a Mac user so no need to get all high and mighty and throw down gauntlets…

And I also stated that if you were there for the general Mac experience it was fine. I was fully aware it was NOT an iPod Expo - I am not stupid. 

And 65 million iPods is a small slice? Hmm….

I was looking at the Expo from the viewpoint of the iPod user. Compared to Paris last year and this year, and even the small amount of iPod accessories at London last year, it was poor - my opinion as a Mac user and an iPod user and as someone who has attended San Francisco.

Posted by Bob Levens in UK on October 28, 2006 at 12:57 PM (CDT)


Vikash: This has nothing to do with Apple’s presence or lack thereof; it is an opportunity for third-party vendors, including many who were promoted as attendees but didn’t actually show up, to present their products to potential customers. The disappointment is in the Expo’s failure to live up to what was suggested in its list of exhibitors.

Bob: It’s actually closer to 69 million - Apple sold 39 million iPods in fiscal year 2006 alone.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on October 28, 2006 at 1:09 PM (CDT)

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