Where is MacWorld Without Apple?

in Strategy & Trends | by Ethan Lyon


In early 1000 AD, Genghis Khan brutally slashed through Asia to form the Mongolian empire. It was Khan’s military leadership and charisma that paved Mongolia’s path to victory and consequently, after his death, the Khan’s Mongolian empire crumbled. Much like the Mongolian empire fizzled after Genghis Khan, MacWorld risks a similar fate after the loss of its main attraction and brightest star, Steve Jobs.

“Who needs a yearly Macworld in San Francisco when, as the release of the iPad last month showed, we’re living in bigger, non-stop Mac world?” writes the Huffington Post. Without its beacon of light, could MacWorld expo be adrift without a compass or can it use succession planning to get back on course?  “Macworld comes to you — that’s Apple’s strategy now,” Peter Hirshberg, co-founder of the marketing agency The Conversation Group, told HuffPostTech. So how can MacWorld overcome the loss of its star?

  1. Find replacements tied to Apple that would ladder-up to Steve Jobs’ star power
  2. Extend beyond Apple, pulling speakers from Google, startups, and Silicon Valley
  3. Recognize that it’s the beginning of the end

The first route would celebrate MacWorld’s status as everything Apple. Featuring Guy Kawasaki as a guest speaker is a good first step.  Beyond Guy, MacWorld could ride the tide of rising stars in Apple’s world.  Scott Forstall (Senior Vice President of iPhone Software) or Phillip Schiller (Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing) or even Steve Wozniak could be possible replacements to bring star-power back to MacWorld.

For a sports analogy of succession planning at its best, we look to the 49ers’ successful run in the 80s and 90s.  They parlayed Joe Montana’s three Super Bowl victories (’85, ’87 and ’90) into a 14-2 season under Steve Young in 1992, and a Super Bowl victory in 1995. Just as the 49ers groomed the lesser-known Young to take over for Montana, MacWorld needs a new generation of star power to fill the room.

The second route would challenge MacWorld to move beyond the Mac.  Much like MTV moved beyond music television, MacWorld could extend its reach, immersing itself in tomorrow’s geek culture.  The key would be to distinguish itself from CES and other tech conferences.  What’s the lure of MacWorld if it’s lost Apple?

The final route would bring MacWorld to its finish.  We think it’s too early to write off MacWorld.  We’re giving MacWorld a year to re-invent itself in life after Steve Jobs.