Macworld Boston: Show Goes On Sans Core Player

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A somewhat anemic Macworld is drawing less than 10,000 attendees in Boston this week, as the event attempts to put on a happy face in the absence of some main attractions--like Apple Computer and its leader, Steve Jobs.

Even so, Jobs, in particular, was a subject of discussion, as the Apple team that originally developed the Macintosh appeared at the conference and finally had the opportunity to critique Jobs, who had critiqued the team 20 years ago. They discussed Jobs' often-onerous management style--some team members seemed scarred by the experience, even two decades later--but there was some agreement that Jobs was, indeed, the driving force behind the Macintosh, according to press reports.

Apple and Jobs are boycotting the Boston event, but it's yet to be determined if the move away from New York to Boston or the lack of Apple's participation are the cause of the drop in attendance and number of exhibitors. Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft were last-minute entries; Microsoft was said to be participating chiefly as an observer.

While the show has been relatively light on IT and enterprise offerings, there was a strong play to Apple's strengths in media and graphics. Some interesting products were on display, including a 3-D animation studio product from Hash Inc.; an Internet library of a broad range of sound effects, called SoundShuttle from PowerFX Systems; and digital picture frames from PhotoVu LLC.

The event helped launch Boston's new $800 million convention center. At the same time in the same convention center--but segregated from Macworld--a corporate meeting was being conducted by SAP AG. The irony is that the SAP meeting, which is a private affair, boasted more attendees than Macworld--about 11,000 SAP people convened at the site.

Macworld West, which is scheduled to be held in January in San Francisco, is expected to be attended by both Apple and Jobs.

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