RealTime IT News

In Search of Macworld Expo Buzz

SAN FRANCISCO -- Macworld Expo returned to San Francisco on Thursday, the second year in a row the show has forged ahead without Apple's participation. Apple product introductions and the Steve Jobs keynote were a staple of past events, attracting long lines pushing to get into the overcrowded halls.

This year's show, with exhibits limited to one main hall in the Moscone Center, lacked the big crowds and virtually all of the big-name tech companies of the past, with Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) a notable exception.

"This isn't a real computer or software show anymore -- it's a software and accessories show," Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) developer and book author Tony Bove told InternetNews.com. "You don't come here to see Macs and iPads because Apple's not here to show them off, but you can see the stuff that works with them. Utilities are a huge industry"

The biggest individual booth at the show belongs to a company called Sanho, which showed off its HyperMac line of external batteries for Apple's Macbook line. The company also offers external batteries for the iPhone and iPad.

"We're the only external battery for the MacBook," Sanho President Daniel Chin told InternetNews.com.

The company's low-end $200 model battery for the MacBook extends battery life by up to 20 hours, according to Chin. The high-end $500 model offers up to 45 hours of additional battery life, but Chin concedes that at that price the product is probably best-suited to hard-core users. "Someone backpacking in the Amazon or something like that would like it because it gives them the opportunity to keep their MacBook powered."

Another accessory company with a small but busy booth here is Vogel's, a market leader in Europe of audio/visual equipment and TV mounting solutions. Vogel's was showing off RingO, an iPad universal mounting system for the home or office or even inside a car. Vogel's is also making WallTImes, a free clock application, available for download for the iPad, with options to display multiple time zones, alarms and set cooking times.

"This is a patented, safe, secure wall mount," Albert Zeeman, vice president at Vogel's, told InternetNews.com. "We're all Mac users ourselves and we know the level of quality Apple customers demand."

Longtime Apple user Keith Newman, a principal of Newman Media, said he continues to come to Macworld Expo even without the pull of Jobs and Apple as an exhibitor. "There are a lot of stars in the Apple solar system and Macworld is an opportunity to learn about the new products that are out there," Newman said.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.