Macworld transitions to Macworld|iWorld as conference begins next week

Paul Kent, general manager of Macworld Expo, says that next week's renamed Macworld|iWorld show will be "the most interesting and certainly the most unique show that we've ever produced." The event begins next Thursday at San Francisco's Moscone Convention Center, and according to what Kent describes, there will be plenty going on.

First up is the exhibition hall itself -- just like last year, it will be in the first floor of Moscone West. There are 271 exhibitors total, and 130 of those are app developers. Like last year, there will be plenty of iOS developers around, but one of the big pushes this year is to represent the emerging Mac App Store, so Macworld has set up an "OS X Zone," which will feature OS X apps and their developers. There are also plenty of iOS accessory and lifestyle item makers as well, says Kent. "iWorld is not just a new name, it's really a direction for the show, where all aspects of the mobile lifestyle are going to be brought to life."

Upstairs in Moscone West will be the tech talks and the show's mainstage, and in those panels, says Kent, Apple users will find all sorts of great tips and insights on how their hardware and software works together. Some of the talks will be for a general Mac audience, featuring luminaries from the Mac community talking about their area of interest, and some of them will be very specific talks based on some technical issues, like dealing with Photoshop or Quicktime.

Elsewhere on the main stage, there will be plenty of celebrities and artists coming in throughout the week to talk about how they use Apple products in their work. Modest Mouse will open up the event, and during the week, visitors will see all kinds of artists and musicians showing off their work, including bands like moe, Atomic Tom, and legendary electronic musician BT.

And the last big exhibit is the Macworld Midway, also on the show's second floor, which will feature all kinds of different fan-centered exhibits based on Apple's hardware and software. In addition to musical shows and demonstrations, there will be an iPad sketch booth, where visitors can get sketched on an iPad, and a photo booth run with Apple devices. "In general show managers don't design attractions," says Kent, but Macworld this year is different -- he and his team have created a little something different from the standard convention. "We've kind of gone down the road of really creating this experiential environment."

Kent says that the past few years in the Apple community have shown that yes, there are two camps: Old school Mac users, and those jumping on board the iOS/mobile device train. But there's no reason why those two camps can't come together, and have "unified view of what it means to be an Apple platform user," Kent tells us, "I'd be surprised if there are many Mac users that don't have an iPhone or iPad."

The show definitely sounds fun, and of course TUAW will be there covering it from door to door, even if you're not in San Francisco and can't come by. We'll have a meetup next Thursday as well, so if you are headed to Macworld, make sure to visit us and say hi. Whether you're coming for a few hours, a day, or the whole show, it definitely sounds like there's a lot to do and see at Macworld this year.