Apple iOS News, , , , , , , — January 23, 2013 15:50 — 0 Comments

‘Steve Jobs’ returns to Macworld/iWorld but there’s no going back for organisers

macworld/iworld2013, Ashton Kutcher, Josh Gad, ijobs

Josh Gad and Ashton Kutcher will be live at Macworld/iWorld2013 talking about ‘playing Steve and Woz’ in the forthcoming film jOBS

Macworld boss Paul Kent talks exclusively to on plans to build on the ‘iFan events’, promoting iPhoneography, iPhone filmmaking and music

iPhone Film Festival cofounder: iPhone moviemaking ‘will be the norm’

It’s that time of year again when San Francisco is a buzz with the annual Macworld/iWorld jamboree when hordes of fanboys, discerning geeks and the plain and mildly curious descend on the Moscone Center West venue from Thursday 31 January for three days of all things Apple.

Last year saw a spectacular change in the format with the introduction of the iFan events, giving valuable exposure to iPhone filmmakers and other artists using iOS devices to express themselves in a variety of genres.

Four years after Apple bowed out of Macworld, organisers have announced that ‘Steve Jobs’ is set to return to the conference in the guise of actor Ashton Kutcher, who plays the late Apple boss in the new film  jOBS.

Kutcher and co-star Josh Gad, who plays co-founder Steve Wozniak, kick-off this year’s event with a session on the first day aptly called ‘Playing Steve & Woz’, which takes place on the main stage at 9am.

There is also confirmation that musician also plans to attend, pairing with Intel futurist Brian David Johnson in a discussion on future technology and gadgets. Fred Armisen, of cult US TV shows Portlandia and Saturday Night Live, will also be present.

paul kent, macworld/iworld2013

Paul Kent, vice president and general manager of Macworld/iWorld

Paul Kent, vice president and general manager of Macworld/iWorld, took time out of his busy schedule overseeing final preparations to give an exclusive interview, which we conducted via email.

You must have been pretty pleased with the 2012 event and the iFan element?

Paul Kent: Macworld/iWorld 2013 will build on the ‘Technology Arts Festival’ vibe that we launched in 2012. The film festival, music events, featured artists and iPhone photography programmes layered on top of the more general iOS and OS X updates all combine to create a wonderful atmosphere where creators and consumers of Apple-infused creative works can see the state of the art on display. We were thrilled with the reaction to the 2012 offerings and look forward to presenting even more programmes this year.

The iFan events are giving creator-makers in genres such as music, film and art a valuable platform to show of their skills, but they have also given the conference a fresh direction, a new lease of life – would you agree?

PK: I’d absolutely agree that taking the event in the direction of giving creators a vehicle to present their work to an appreciative audience, and interact both with each other as well as colleagues from other creative disciplines, has put the event on a fun and fresh course that all involved are enjoying.

How big a risk was it to try something new like this, were you afraid of alienating your core audience?

PK: Creative works have always been a part of Macworld’s history – it’s part of our DNA. From back in the days when Apple’s own Apple Masters programme presented the early industry geniuses showing how they do what they do, to the rich history of performances that have taken place at the show, creators have always had a special role at Macworld/iWorld. We’ve built on and expanded those programmes to create the feature-rich event we’re offering today.

So last year’s Macworld/iWorld event definitely broke new ground with the iFan events, it was obviously a good move in the right direction – what’s new this year?

PK: One of the biggest themes attendees will notice this year is a new focus on iPhoneography – the art of photography with an iPhone. We’re offering a full day (13 hours!) special event with some of the real pioneers in the field, breakout sessions, a gallery, several app developers and a Main Stage session on this emerging field. Also, about 40% of the exhibitors are new to the show – so many new products and companies will be revealed. All of our Tech Talks are brand new, and our music and film offerings present new artists.

What type of audience would you say Macworld/iWorld appeals to these days?

PK: We call Macworld/iWorld ‘The Ultimate iFan Event’ for good reason – the show is built to  enjoy learning about the benefits that mobile lifestyle of Apple products offers. If you use an iPad, iPhone, or MacBook – we’re here to  help you get more enjoyment out of using those tools, by education, exposing you to new products, and inspiring you with examples of how others are using them with the state of the art.

Apart from Adam Kutcher and perhaps, any big name speakers this year?

PK: The most well known and respected experts in the broader Apple products market will be speaking – people like Macworld’s Jason Snell, Chris Breen and Dan Moren, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber and Ars Technica’s Jacqui Cheng. We also have Michael Koerbel from Majek Pictures, David Mash from the Berklee College of Music, Dan Marcolina from Marcolina Designs – all experts in their field. We were very excited to announce Saturday Night Live and Portlandia cast member Fred Armisen – a huge Apple fan – will be at the show talking about his experiences as a creative professional using these tools. And we have a few more major announcements as we finalise the programme.

How big a blow was Apple pulling out after 2009? (sorry, I have to ask!)

PK: That was four years ago and we’re very happy with the new personality and direction that the show has taken.

I attended last year’s event, it was my first time, and I must say I was impressed with the size and scope, a lot of work obviously goes into it – has it got harder or easier to organise over the years?

PK: We work year round staying on top of current topics, talking with exhibitors and working on all the special events. It’s a lot of work, but my team loves the challenge every year and the opportunity to create an event that our attendees will enjoy.

Every year after the Glastonbury Festival organiser Michael Eavis always says that this was one has ‘been the best ever’ – is that how you feel about Macworld?

PK: Success in any kind of event business is predicated on setting the goal of topping yourself every year. It’s the creative part of our job that is so enjoyable – more, bigger, better!

Attendance last year was pretty good I understand, are you expecting/hoping for a bigger crowd this year?

PK: We’re looking forward to hosting about 25,000 iFans at this year’s event.

I came as part of the iPhone Film Festival (IFF) event last year and was shocked at how little most delegates new about this exciting genre of filmmaking, what did you think of the films and what Ruben Kazantsev (founder of IFF)  in particular is doing? (I was pleased by the response to the IFF – by the way!)

PK: Ruben has been a fantastic partner in operating and advising us on the presentation of the iPhone Film Festival. We presented iPhone filmmaking pioneers Michael Koerbel and Anna Elizabeth James as our featured artists in 2011 – we were blown away then, and now that we are focusing on this area of innovation, we are thrilled to have met iPhone videographers doing amazing work from around the world. I love the continued innovation, creativity and incredible storytelling of our filmmakers.

Do you see a radical change in Macworld/iWorld’s make up in the coming years, ie a move to more of a festival feel or do you think the balance is right between trade, apple geeks, vendors and iFans?

PK: The direction we’re on right now is resonating wonderfully with attendees, but we’re always trying to lead in the area of event design to create something fresh and new for our attendees. What we’re doing now is quite unique – offering a consumer technology event with focus on the creative world – and we will continue to innovate and tweak the formula to keep the show enjoyable for all our participants.

You’ve been going almost 30 years, what is the secret of Macworld’s success?

PK: The ability to shine a mirror on what’s going on in the Apple market place; present the focus on the products that attendees will enjoy discovering, and educate about the topics of current interest in unique ways. Product discovery, education and social networking opportunities are the basis of everything we do.

What are you looking forward to this year?

PK: The new companies exhibiting are bringing extraordinary new apps, imaging devices, storage and utilities to the show. Products are always the star.

Best memory from last year?

PK: Too many to single out one – the great jam-band Moe’s  musical performance using exclusive iPads and the closing ceremony drum circle were great highlights.

For you personally what is the single most important thing about Macworld/iworld  - ie what do you think it offers today’s tech-savvy audience?

PK: Macworld/iWorld is one of the last “populist” events around. We’re very proud that we’ve been able to continue to present a show that allows creative-types to show their work to their public, and allow users to get a glimpse inside what makes some of the extraordinarily talented technologists in the world tick. It’s not an industry inside event – it’s built for the people who love the technology the most.


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About the author

Tony Myers has written 866 articles for Smart Movie Making

Fooling around with the iPhone since 2010. Taking it to the next web by writing about new media, new technology, new wave cinema and the digital revolution.

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