I feel I should report on my experience attending the MacWorld Expo keynote. I will try to resist a long commentary on the new announcements from Apple (iLife '06, Intel iMac, MacBook Pro), but I will include a few comments.
Going to the keynote at MacWorld is quite something. I arrived in the line outside Moscone center at around 4:45 am. There were maybe 100-150 people ahead of me (I'm not great at estimating crowd sizes). I enjoy the conversations that can be overheard in this line. People talking about previous MacWorlds, favorite Apple hardware (and least favorite), favorite websites, favorite tech gadgets (iPods, and others).
Just after 6:00 am, the line is easily several hundred people long. At that time we're let inside, where those with priority seating are sent to one area to wait, and the rest of us are sent to a large holding area, where we take a seat. In this area, laptops and iPods all come out of their cases. Nowhere else have I seen so many Apple products in use at once. Around 8:30 am, the excitement level picks up, and folks begin standing up and putting away their laptops. And at 8:55 am, we were sent down the hall and up the two sets of escalators to the keynote hall. This part is not unlike a stampede. I'd be surprised if no one was hurt.
Let me describe the keynote hall situation. The ballroom is large. Not stadium concert large, but convention center large. The front 25-35% is for Apple Employees and other VIPs. They and the press are seated first. (Al Gore, who is on Apple's Board of Directors, was in the front couple of rows.) Then those with priority seating are let in. By 8:55 am, when the stampede I was in arrived, the back 25% was largely empty, and the density increased going forward. I was able to get about halfway back (single open seats were easier to find). I was just behind one of the big screens showing those in the way back what was going on. It was handy for me to watch that screen during demos, and then the live stage for the rest.
The crowd was impressed with some Apple financial updates, but the collective 'ooh's, 'aah's, and other mumblings really came during the iLife '06 demos. I swear I heard multiple mutterances of "I could have used that for such and such I did last month for the holidays."
The crowd was also very happy to hear that Intel macs were ready early, though the rumors were so prevalent that I can't believe too many attendees were surprised. Still, I think the crowd, used to Apple being an afterthought of chip suppliers, was happy to see the Intel exec make an appearance.
Coming out of the keynote, it's impressive to see the Apple ads up on bus stops around town. They must choreograph those to within an hour or so. Lots of people crowd straight into the exhibit hall to get to the new toys right away. Others, like me, are tired after a long morning, and take a breather before heading towards the exhibit hall. Eating lunch helps.
That's my story. It's fun; geek fun, to be sure, but fun.