When I do something wrong, I apologize. Making errors can be embarrassing, which probably has something to do with why I’ve taken so long to share with the community my Macworld Expo 2011 Worst of All post, a.ka. face palm edition. I don’t like people to feel ashamed for what might be experienced as anything between, “WTF?” to “I don’t get it.” But here are my thoughts on this year’s MacWorld “Worst of All” picks.
Worst of All
iFusion – OK, I get that for those who work in an office space with more than ten employees who have iPhones, being able to turn your iPhone into a desk phone via Bluetooth using the iFusion could be a viable solution. I do not understand how a business owner would justify paying $169 per unit so you as an employee could enjoy a charging station and your music over the speaker without getting a neck cramp. Nor could I understand that the unit is only for iPhone, and not for other kinds of mobile phones, because what is the likelihood you’ll know what employees have iPhones (unless you bought them yourself)?
I also could not see the home market taking off with this either. I hardly know anyone who uses their landlines much. I could see a much older market finding this product useful, but I was left scratching my head. The handset phone market is dying, isn’t it? Do we really have use for the iFusion? Call it iConfusion.
Yet one more iPad case with a strap. – Anyone who has used an iPad and tried standing or walking with it immediately discovers that typing with one hand while holding it steady with the other takes a little practice. If I recall, that might have been what caused Chris Pirillo to drop my first iPad [BTW, I may already have a buyer for that one when I get the iPad2, hee hee]. However, at Macword Expo 2011, there were quite a few vendors specializing in iPad accessories dedicated to that strap issue. How many iPad case strap vendors does it take to cover a conference? Really?
I’ll admit there were just as many iPhone case vendors as well, but to their credit, quite a few of them had some interesting offerings, including one that made your iPhone look like an old cassette tape, and another that put more bling bling on your iPhone than Zsa Zsa Gabor and Queen Elizabeth combined. At least they were interesting. No picture here. To include one would be flog you with the one corner of the Expo I didn’t wish to revisit.
HatTV. – Or is it TV Hat? Apparently, they are one and the same! Debuting in 2009, the 2011 version comes in all black, converting outdoor mobile phone movie watching and gaming into a mildly pervy, voyeuristic, claustraphobic, and definitely morbid (a la guillotine hood) experience. Inside the hat is a magnifying custom lens and a mobile device holder; outside, the dark material keeps out the sun so you can watch your porn anywhere. But now, the vendor will suggest you to watch your porn while fondling your mate in bed in a seamless user experience. It was declared one of the weirdest products at CES 2010. When the vendor suggested one could cut a hole in the front so the camera could be used to film others for up to six hours of uninterrupted use (yes, he actually did say that in front of me), I laughed so hard I thought I might just throw up. Strangely, I imagine this product would do well in an elephant gift exchange or as a novelty gift in a Mac-centric adult toy store.
Spotty wireless coverage. – The two times I mentioned the spotty wireless coverage (you can get on for a few seconds, but like a speedy merry-go-round, everyone eventually falls off), my friends shrugged their shoulders and smiled. Apparently, this problem isn’t going to be fixed any time soon. But if you wanted to try out that new app you just downloaded, better remember to increase your data plan before attending MacWorld 2011, or it’ll cost you.
Thought: couldn’t vendors raffle away free wireless coverage for the day through their routers if we stood on our heads or flapped our lips about how much we LOVED their product?
Unimaginative booths with even less function. – My parents took us to some conventions back in the early 1980’s, and booths look about as boring then as they do now. I don’t need to remind you how much these spaces cost, and what great lengths some companies go to in order to build ceiling banners and structures to make their booths stand out. Problem: to make a temporary structure not look so temporary. Solution: be creative.
Rather than show you example after example of really plain and sometimes downright ugly presentations of booths, I’ll show you the one that did it “right”. Pictured here is the backside of the structure Gelaskins built. It reminded me of an urban street corner with planned art, and the front side looked like a bar where you could slide up and select from a menu of devices and designs. The fact that Violet Blue and Ben Metcafe are standing in front of it just makes it all that much more attractive.
Gelaskins got it totally right at the conference. At least no one dared to cover their entire vending space with brown paper and leave crayons behind (I won’t tell you what conference I saw that offering in).
The mini kioks were nice, but I had wished the entire thing was arranged a bit more like Disneyland and a bit less like a backyard carnival. Kudos to the small business owners who prepared for purchases by using Square. Boo to those who resorted to carbon-copy receipts (are you kidding? really?).
No road signs and no escorts
The big “face palm” of the Expo isn’t what you’d expect. Isn’t the live demos, panels, and presentations supposed to be the crowd gatherers? Didn’t we come here to learn something new? Instead, I heard some disappointing feedback about the workshops and presentations. Some complained how the presentations barely scratched the surface of the subject, lacking depth or direction. Some were in rooms tucked away from the main floor and poorly advertised. While the MacWorld App had up-to-date information on the locations and times of presentations and panels, I would have missed the best if people hadn’t grabbed me to come along.
I admit I missed a demo that sounded interesting. Some time ago, I had downloaded MorphWiz on my iPad, but I never really used it all that much. The app seemed to draw more “mehs” from other casual users. A man sitting next to me during a music demo started asking me a lot of questions, and the flirt-dork that I am, it took me a few moments to register that he was hitting on me. He wanted me to check out a presentation about to start in another room. I said no, simply because I was uncomfortable. Later, he returned to where I was still seated, saying, “You missed a really good presentation.You should have come,” and he walked away.
That evening, several attendees mentioned they had sat in on a “fascinating” music demonstration by the one of the creators behind the MorphWiz app, Jordan Rudess. Oops. That was the presentation the man had wanted me to attend with him! While I might not be a fan of MorphWiz because I am simply not familiar with the potential of the app, I am smart enough to know that you always start with the inventor if you really want to know the soul of an application. [Ladies: do not ask me if the man was cute. It’s a room full of geeks. They’re ALL cute.] Now, if there had been an indicator of what the actual presentation was going to be, I might have made a different decision. Redemption: I pulled out the app for the ladies and let them play on my iPad, which they had only seen in the demonstration. Score!
Will any of these things in the Face Palm edition of Macworld Worst Of All keep me from attending next year? Doubtful. But I hope next year’s offering continues to inspire, improve, and wow us in the same way as the Apple products themselves. While Macworld doesn’t have the kind of money Apple does, I am confident that Macheads the world over will think of ways to make it work. I am counting on it as a newbie to the world of all things Apple. If I didn’t believe this, I wouldn’t have changed my brand motto to got iMei?
B. iMei Hsu is a nurse psychotherapist, performance artist, guest blogger on Lockergnome, and writer for Lockergnome’s Psycho Nurse as well as her own webblog Hips For Hire. Her visit to MacWorld 2011 included a field trip to the Mothership, where she ended up coming home with a Mac-mini and a second iPad for Dj’ing. When she’s not playing Battlestar Galactica reruns for her Applehead iCat Siamese Charles-Monet, she’s heating up the dance floor and pouring the red wine in her art loft in Seattle, WA.