Produced by Boston-based IDG World Expo, Macworld Conference & Expo is a trade show dedicated to the Apple Macintosh platform with conference tracks occurring twice a year in the United States. The name Macworld is the name of the most widely read Macintosh magazine in North America, and is a trademark of its publisher Mac Publishing, a wholly owned subsidiary of International Data Group. IDG World Expo is also a subsidiary of International Data Group. At one time, the show was known simply as Macworld Expo.
The Conference & Expo features educational conferences taught by leaders in their field, which require large admission fees to attend, and last for a few more days than the Expo. The Expo is open for a number of days (generally three or four), and attendees can visit the exhibits set up by hardware manufacturers and software publishers that support the Macintosh platform.
There has been some discussion among critics about the necessity of having two Macworld events in the United States at a time when non-Mac focused events such as COMDEX are encountering financial trouble. Additionally, as Apple continues to expand its retail presence in the US market, it becomes easier to shop for Macintosh computers and accessories. The emergence of the World Wide Web has also contributed to the decline in trade shows of relatively established markets such as the Macintosh business.
The first Macworld Expo occurred in 1985.
Since 1998, the Macworld Conference & Expo has been known for its keynote presentations by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, though in 2003, Apple appeared to be moving away from keynote presentations, planning its own (less expensive) press events.
The event in San Francisco has always been held at Moscone Center. The Expo was also held in Brooks Hall near the San Francisco Civic Centre from 1985 to 1993, when the expansion of Moscone Centre allowed the show to be consolidated in one location.
The Eastern US event was held simultaneously at Bayside Expo & Executive Conference Centre and at the Seaport Hotel & World Trade Centre in Boston from its inception, but was moved to New York City's Jacob K. Javits Convention Centre in 1998.
In 1998, the New York Event inaugurated a competition (produced by Double Exposure) called the National Macintosh Gaming Championship, which challenged attendees to play games for a number of premium prize packages. The event continued in 1999 in San Francisco, and was terminated after the New York show in 2000 to make way for the Apple Gaming Pavilion.
In 2003, IDG World Expo announced plans to move the 2004 East coast show back to Boston, which prompted the ire of Apple executives, despire IDG's claim that Apple initially approved of the move. The 2004 summer show did take place in Boston, despite Apple's refusal to exhibit — but many other industry leaders followed the lead of Apple, canceling or reducing the size of their own exhibits, which resulted in attendance that was only a small fraction of the size of previous Macworld conferences.
IDG World Expo initially responded to the loss of Apple computer by renaming the show CREATE, and narrowing (or broadening) the show's focus to the creative professional market. Recognising the branding value of the Macworld name, the show was renamed once again to Macworld CreativePro Conference & Expo.
The show has taken place in other cities, historically. A Tokyo show, produced by IDG World Expo Japan, was held at Makuhari Messe and moved to Tokyo Big Sight in 2002. Macworld Expo Summit, a version of the show targeted at U.S. government customers, was held at the Washington Convention Centre in Washington, D.C. as late as 1994.
Historically, the event has drawn more diverse crowds than other technology trade shows, as Apple's often fanatical customer base made up a significant portion of the show's attendance.
In its heyday, it was legendary for the parties that coincided with it, frequently with open bars, lavish hors d'oeuvres, and requisite t-shirts and other premium favors. Apple's developer parties featured high-profile entertainers like James Brown and Smashmouth.
MacWEEK had an exclusive party known as Mac the Knife, named for its anonymous columnist that wrote the back page industry gossip and rumour section; after MacWEEK's demise, the party was thrown by Ilene Hoffman, until Mac Publishing, owners of the Mac the Knife trademark, forbade her from using the name. The party continued, with appearances by the Macworld All-Star Band, under a series of names that referenced the Knife.
For four years at the New York show, MacAddict hosted a private dinner cruise on the Hudson River for its advertisers. Macworld schedules its annual Editor's awards ceremony for the night before the show in San Francisco. Macworld, MacAddict, and macHOME each hosted parties for advertisers as well.
Robert Hess of MacWEEK was the original keeper of the Macworld Party List, which kept track of each leisure event after the show. Prior to his death in 1996, he reportedly requested Ilene Hoffman to maintain it; the list was subsequently renamed the Robert Hess Memorial Events List. The list shrunk gradually as events became more sparse, and did not publish for the show in New York 2003, but was published for the San Francisco 2004 show.