Sunday, January 09, 2000

Why 2K?

Editor's NOTE: This is a moldie oldie that I pulled from a text dump archive. None of the links will work anymore (or 99% won't) - but the names and companies have NOT changed.

So it's a new year (and new Millennium - well, not until 2001, but close enough) and I just got back from the MacWorld 2000 convention in San Francisco, CA. I went to do a (free) session called "FileMaker and the Web - Just Do It!". The session went very well (250-300 in attendance - standing room only) - and hopefully they each learned something they didn't know coming into the session.

I've been going to this show every year since 1991. In the past it has been a great place to see other FileMaker developers, meet with FileMaker engineers, get the latest "buzz" on upcoming FileMaker releases, etc. I've also managed to do quite a bit of business either on the show floor, at a lavish FileMaker party, or because of personal introductions to potential customers by others. This year - not so much.

On the good side: I got the chance to see many old friends at the FSA dinner, had a lunch or two with some long-time FMI employees (and ex-Claris folks) and got a chance to talk with the FMI big wigs for an hour before the FSA dinner (at the Partner meeting).

On the room-for-improvement side: The show seemed small - although it still occupied both the North and South halls of Moscone Center in downtown San Francisco. A lot of the booth space seemed to be cancelled at the last minute because there were lots of "blank" spaces in the middle of the aisles that were hastily filled with food court chairs. There were a lot of hardware vendors hawking everything USB. In horrible colors. Everywhere.

Although the Apple booth was interesting, and they had some cool Cannon digital video cameras above each of the DV iMacs lining the booth, there were no "drop dead sexy" showings of the Air Port, no announcement of the 17 inch iMac, no G4 PowerBooks, etc. They showed off the OS X "Client" software - and it was pretty cool. Transparent drop-down menus (so you can see the video you're playing in the background), HUGE icons everywhere, a new Finder that will do a scrolling view (to the right) of folder contents... oh yes, the three little "stoplight" buttons in the upper left; green for "open", yellow for "show title only" and red for "close." (

There were many major Mac software vendors who just didn't show up - and those who did seemed to have only incremental upgrades to their titles. The classic was Microsoft. The Internet Explorer 5.0 demo was 5 minutes - showing off the new COLORS on the browser ("Yes, if you want blueberry, you got blueberry. If you want Tangerine - you got it!"), a couple of very cool new drag-and-drop features, and 10 minutes playing a lame game show that asked questions like; "What product lets you create cells and columns" (answer: Excel). Internet Explorer 5.0 was also named best of show... 'nuf said. There was a woman in one booth dressed as a printer (NO KIDDING!) - and another booth had a live jazz band. Ouch.

Maybe I'm expecting too much. I long for the "good old days" where seeing everything in the show would require 2 or 3 days. Where you scoured every single booth because sometimes you'd find extremely cool software written by a couple of guys in their garage just starting out. Where ALL the major software vendors would hold their "big" announcements for the show. A time when computers came in two colors; beige and black (NeXT). A time when losing $5 million a quarter was a BAD thing and the only companies with over a billion dollar market valuation were names like Coca Cola, Time Warner, etc.

Maybe next year I'll just fly up for the day.

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