The yearly Macworld Expo is a place for Apple fans to get their hands on new products, hobnob with like-minded Mac fans--and to see chief executive Steve Jobs in the flesh.
The question is whether the largely local attendee base will still be compelled to attend after Apple's announcement Tuesday that Jobs won't deliver the next Macworld keynote speech and that this will be its final year of participating in the event at all. The Macworld Expo doesn't have a huge economic impact on the city of San Francisco. (It's attended mostly by local people, so the city's Conventions and Tourism Bureau can't track it by hotel rooms booked the way they do for other conferences.)
IDG, which puts on the expo every year, says that this year's registrations are expected to match last year's total if current trends continue. Last year's attendance ended up at around 47,000 people. A large part of that number is made up by last-minute registrations, and with two and a half weeks to go before the curtain raises on the event, there's still plenty of time for people to register. IDG has also already committed to putting on Macworld 2010 in San Francisco, even without Apple.
But without Apple's presence after this year, and without Jobs, there seems to be considerably less of a draw--even for the Mac faithful who normally attend.
Mike Leeds, a Mac technician at a Portland, Ore., college said he doesn't think the trip is worth making anymore.
"Living in Portland means I go for professional reasons (which means I get reimbursed for time and mileage). I don't see how I could justify it without Apple's presence," he said. "Apple certainly brings the critical mass for it to survive, but Adobe and the other software houses are needed to make it flourish. It's been ailing for a few years now, and Apple finally put it out of its misery."
On a MacRumors.com discussion board, "SFStateStudent" expressed what seemed to be a common feeling: "The thing I like about MWSF (Macworld San Francisco) is the opportunity to do 'the hands-on' thing with everything Mac and the other vendors' wares. I enjoy picking up new software, a new portable hard drive, a new laptrap or a new case for my iPhone. Oh well, I'll enjoy Apple's last MWSF '09... :("
Others are sticking to their plans to attend, but may reconsider the arduous line-waiting tradition. Wrote commenter Mike Cohen on MacworldBound.com, "I'm staying...about a block from Moscone (Center), so I'll be going straight there instead of to the Apple Store meetup. Unlike last year, I'm not getting up at 4 AM to stand in line."
What about you? Will this affect your travel plans to Macworld this year or next?
CNET News' Daniel Terdiman contributed to this report.