SAN FRANCISCO, MACWORLD 2010 — The guys at Topaz Labs thought business would be slow at the first Macworld without Apple, so they packed only 250 CDs of their software.
They sold out in the first few hours of the first day.
Worried it was just an opening-day rush, and that day two would be dead, they had just 250 more overnighted to their hotel. But those too quickly sold.
“It’s been awesome. I’m exhausted,” laughed Ivan Randall of Topaz Labs. “It’s been a great show.”
Almost all the vendors we talked to told the same story: Macworld 2010 has definitely been worth the money. Many had low expectations, but turnout has been great and business is brisk.
Coming into Macworld, most pundits had pre-written the show’s obituary. They assumed it would die without Apple, just like Macworld Paris, Tokyo and New York/Boston.
But like Mark Twain, rumors of its death have been greatly exaggerated.
“It’s been worth every penny,” said David Barnard, owner of App Cubby, a Texas iPhone app developer who rented a space in the popular Mobile Pavilion, which is showcasing dozens of app vendors.
Likewise, the guys at Appigo, another iPhone app developer, said the same thing. “For us it’s been a great sucess,” said co-owner Calvin Gaisford. “I’m surprised at the number of contacts we’ve made.”
Unlike Barnard, who is exhibiting on a shoestring, Appigo has rented a small booth. The company is spending about $20,000, including fees, airfares, marketing materials and so on.
“I’m kinda glad to see a Macworld without Apple,” said Gaisford. “They totally dominated the show. I’m glad to see what else is out there.”
Only one vendor I talked to is taking a wait-and-see approach. Chris Bundy, director of marketing at Atlona, said it would be a few weeks before he knew whether the contacts he’s made would translate into sales.
“For exhibitors it’s tough times,” he said.
Nonetheless Bundy said he’s making a lot of good contacts — not just consumers, but buyers in the private and public sectors.
“I’m pleasantly surprised; there’s a lot of commercial contacts here,” said Bundy. But he pointed out that none of his competitors are at the show.
Of course, not everyone at Macworld is doing gangbuster business. Some of the booths at the edges of the show are quiet and empty.
But for companies like Topaz, which has a hot product, the show has been great.
Debuting at Macworld, its suite of nine easy-to-use Photoshop/iPhoto plugins are proving very popular.
Plus, the Topaz guys are hustling, selling the software hard with back-to-back demos. Their booth is small and tucked away in a back corner of the show floor — but it has been constantly mobbed.
“It’s been crazy,” said Randall. “We’ve been exhausted by 10 AM. But that’s a good problem to have.”
Are they coming back next year?
“Yeah, of course we’re coming back,” laughed Randall.