Macworld 2011 Preview: Here’s What To Check Out

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moscone_west
Macworld 2011 is being held at Moscone West, the same venue as Apple's WWDC. CC-licensed photo by w00kie: http://www.flickr.com/photos/w00kie/212367760/

SAN FRANCISCO, Macworld 2011 — Proving that the show can go on without Apple, Macworld 2011 opens today and is bigger and better than ever.

Well, bigger and better than last year.

This is the second year of Macworld without Apple, but the show has attracted 10% more exhibitors than 2010 and is on track for 25,000 visitors, organizers say.

“The show is shaping up good,” Macworld general manager Paul Kent told CultofMac.com. “If the numbers go right, we’re going to have about a 25% increase in attendance.”

The growth of the show proves that it can survive with its anchor tenant, Apple, which quit the show in 2009. Without Apple Macworld shrank from about 400 vendors in 2009 to about 200 in 2010. But vendors are up this year (about 230), and the crowds are expected to be bigger.

Starting Wednesday and running through Saturday, Macworld won’t see anything like a new iPad, but will feature lots of iOS accessories, Mac software, and apps. Plus a ton of Apple fans, of course, which is really the point.

The lineup of products at the show reflects Apple’s product mix: about one-third Mac OS stuff and two-thirds iOS-related products. The biggest speaker is comedian Sinbad, who’ll be cracking jokes about his love of Apple on Thursday afternoon.

“It’s a really fun time,” said Kent. “Macworld is a celebration. There’s a high joy quotient. It’s a fun place to be. There’s not a lot of places were people can do this any more.”

Some stats:

  • More than 25,000 attendees expected, based on the pre-show registrations
  • More than 230 exhibitors. 53% new to Macworld
  • More than 100 new products expected to be launched
  • Official Twitter hashtag is #Macworld2011

Here’s some other things to look forward to:

Wednesday

Wednesday is the Industry Forum. Here’s the schedule. Highlights include:

10:40 am – 11:00 am – Harry McCracken, Editor, Technologizer – Thoughts on Mobile. Basically, iOS v. Android.

11:10 am – 11:30 am – Bill Atkinson, Apple programming legend and photographer – Trends in Human-Computer Interface. How computer UIs will become “a conversational user interface with a personal assistant avatar.”

3:30 pm – 3:50 pm – Mike Lawrence, Executive Director, Computer-Using Educators (CUE) – Apple’s Role in Ubiquitous Learning. How mobile will transform computers in education.

Thursday

10:00 am — Expo show floor opens.

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm — Sinbad. An hour of comedy with the long-time Macworld supporter.

5:30 pm – ~8:30 p.m — Tech journalist + app developer meetup at Wired HQ – free booze while you schmooze!

~8 pm — Cirque du Mac party. The best party at Macworld over in North Beach. Invite-only but not too hard to beg, borrow or steal a ticket. Try here.

Friday

9:00 – 10:00 am — Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit presents iFixit live! Wiens will teardown Apple gear and competing products like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab live on stage. Learn about trends in industrial design.

11:30 am – 12:00 pm — Zoë Keating, Cellist and Composer. The one-woman orchestra gives a cello and MacBook performance.

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm — Jordan Rudess, Keyboardist. Music Meets Multitouch. Check out the hard rock keyboardist playing the iPad.

Saturday

Saturday is the big day when people with jobs and schoolkids go. It’s usually a zoo. Free schwag though.