Right Back Atcha, Steve (10/21/02)
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Christmas in October, that's what it is; there's simply no other way to describe the increasingly entertaining events unfolding over this whole Macworld Expo Boston tussle. What wondrous, life-elevating task did we perform to deserve such a windfall of melodrama? We can only assume we must have invented the Tater Tot in a past life, because we haven't been this giddy since we got our first pet rock. Seriously, practically all we've been doing since Saturday is sitting around and giggling like maniacs on nitrous. We think we're freaking out the neighbors.

To recap, after months of not-so-secret discussion and bids and counterbids, Boston recently won the summer Macworld Expo back from New York, where it migrated in 1998. Beginning in 2004, the show will be held in the currently-under-construction Boston Conference and Expo Center; the decision was reached weeks ago, and the official announcement was made last Thursday-- at which point Apple suddenly decided to announce that if the show was moving back to Boston, it wouldn't deign to attend. This reportedly came as a bit of a shock to IDG World Expo, who claims to have been in contact with Apple about the proposed move for months, and never once received any indication whatsoever that the company would get its undies in such a hideous car wreck of a bunch because of a move back to Beantown.

That alone, you can imagine, had us jumping up and down with glee; little did we suspect, however, that our grins would wrap three-quarters of the way around the backs of our heads come Saturday, when (as faithful viewer Joe Radosevich kindly pointed out) IDG's Charlie Greco started hinting to the press that if Apple wouldn't drag its lazy ass to Boston, maybe he'd just tell Steve and friends not to bother showing up to San Francisco's Moscone Center in January, either. No kidding, folks; check out the Boston Globe if you honestly don't think people can be this nuts in real life: sayeth Greco, "You know how badly they want to do San Francisco; we don't have to let them." No doubt about it, this is turning into a real nail-biter-- or at least a real knee-slapper.

So let's think about the various ways in which this could all turn out. Scenario 1: IDG folds like an accordion under a hydraulic press, breaks its contract with Boston, and keeps the show in New York. Macworld Expo is henceforth essentially run by Apple since from the second it flinched, IDG would become what is known in technical circles as "Uncle's Steve's Punk-Ass Biatch." Steve says "Jump," Charlie Greco says "before or after I clean all of your bathroom floors with my tongue, Oh Great One?"

Scenario 2: IDG stands firm and Apple decides to attend both shows after all "upon further consideration," meaning, "after we put down the crack pipe, thought about it for a bit, and realized that the only thing dumber than announcing we're giving up one annual opportunity for massive press coverage (while alienating an entire city and the surrounding region in the process) is losing both said opportunities while alienating everybody in our customer base with an IQ higher than room temperature."

And, of course, there's scenario 3: Both sides stick to their guns, Macworld Expo takes place in San Francisco and Boston sans Apple from now on. Predictably, a new Apple Expo suddenly sprouts up in SF next year, completely under Apple's control (à la the yearly show in Paris). The odds are pretty good that vendors and fans wouldn't shell out to attend both West Coast shows, and the winner takes all the marbles; either Apple's own show winds up emptier than eWorld and the company comes slinking back to IDG, or the Macworld Expos turn into ghost events and IDG has to survive on the proceeds from LinuxWorld, BioITWorld, COMNET, Integrated Security Expo, and its newly-announced WillWorkForFood Expo, coming soon to a soup kitchen near you.

Hey, there's always Scenario 4: Apple walks out of today's scheduled conference call with a bunch of "undisclosed concessions" for agreeing to attend the Boston show after all, which is all it wanted in the first place-- cheaper rent on its 2004 booth space, and maybe some free tickets to a Sox game or two. Both sides will issue press releases to the effect that "it was all just a silly misunderstanding" and all differences "have been resolved amicably."

But there are still a few of us keeping our eyes on Scenario 5, which is what we discussed last Friday: Apple pulled this whole stunt as an ill-conceived attempt to back out of the summer Expos without losing face. After having read the Globe article, we're more suspicious than ever that none of this was ever about Boston or New York; it's about Apple trying to get out of the crushing obligation and expense of having to do two massive U.S. trade shows every year. IDG could announce that the 2004 summer show will be held on top of a large pile of naked women and Steve would still be looking to cancel. Call us cynical, but whatever the end result of this little dust-up turns out to be, we figure it's going to involve Apple either attending only one U.S. Expo a year, or receiving major monetary concessions to keep going to both. Then again, the good news is that we have absolutely nothing to lose by being 100% wrong...


 
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The above scene was taken from the 10/21/02 episode:

October 21, 2002: The slapfight continues, as IDG hints at possibly banning Apple from the January Macworld Expo unless the company agrees to show up in New York and Boston as well. Meanwhile, Apple announces ten new retail stores due to open within the next five weeks, even as the company's market share dips under the 4% mark-- but not to worry, because we have a cunning plan...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 3787: Ten Stores, Five Weeks (10/21/02)   No foolin', Jed; that there Retail Train just keeps on chug-chug-chuggin' along, despite maybe having lost a little bit of steam. Why, this past weekend alone Apple opened another new store in Orlando, Florida at the interestingly-spelled Mall at Millenia...

  • 3788: So Darn Simple It Can't Fail (10/21/02)   Now, don't panic, people, but as faithful viewer Matt Ball pointed out to us, the research firm IDC issued a press release last week with preliminary market share numbers for computer sales in the third quarter, and based on number of units sold, Apple's not exactly kicking tail out there...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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