Macworld | iWorld Expo 2012 looks to the future with a shift in focus

Macworld | iWorld Expo officially kicked off Wednesday night with an energetic performance by alternative rockers Modest Mouse at The Warfield, a beautiful and historic theater in downtown San Francisco. Macworld | iWorld Expo is itself an interesting combination of rich history and modern tweaks. The show has been forced to adapt since Apple last appeared three years ago, and the addition of “iWorld” to the name this year reflects both the increasing community focus and the relative importance of iOS (s aapl) devices.
The new show has been recast as a celebration of the best the Apple community has to offer, drawing from music and the arts for inspiration as well as sharing tips and tricks. The iFanEvent, as it’s being called, goes beyond the usual media personalities presenting tech topics in lectures or panel discussions. The Midway will highlight music performances, interactive sessions, and galleries for visual arts and film. I got a small preview Wednesday, and a visit to the South Park Gallery and the Digital Art Gallery  is worth the time it takes to ride the escalator up to the second floor. There will also be a full schedule of music performances and live art creation, as well as a film festival screening on Friday evening.
In addition to the iFanEvent itself, the concurrent MacIT Conference continues the tradition of more advanced technical training for professionals and educators. All-day workshops took place Wednesday, and various sessions are scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I didn’t get a chance to visit all the workshops, but I did notice the Educator track presented by Computer-Using Educators, Inc. (CUE) was well attended compared to previous years, especially considering the Wednesday timing which would require teachers to arrange a sub in order to attend.
There was no Industry Showcase this year, but the Media Preview event yesterday highlighted a few interesting vendors, and the First Looks program brought together all the new product announcements in one place. Consigned to a few small folding tables in the lobby of Moscone West, I felt the First Looks program didn’t necessarily present the most attractive venue, but we hope to bring you details on some of the more interesting items in our ongoing coverage.
David Greenbaum and I will be roaming the show floor Thursday and Friday looking for all things new and interesting, in addition to meeting with various companies to get detailed looks at products to share with you over the next little while. If you’re at the show, be sure to stop and say hello if you see us on the floor and let us know what you liked. If you can’t make the show this year, let us know if there’s anything specific you’d like to hear about.