John Gruber of Daring Fireball wrote about the Macworld Expo prelude yesterday, and how the absence of Apple will impact it. As he rightfully points out, there's a lot of content at the show that doesn't come from Apple themselves. There's lots of other companies there that have things to share, and what they're showing is often at least as interesting as what Apple is doing.
I've got to be honest and say that this part of his post annoyed me:
To me, though, the reason to walk the show floor has always been about the small companies — often the really small ones. The ones where the employees manning the booth are the engineers and designers who made the product they're promoting.
This implies that it's only the indies who have their own people working the show floor. That's just not true. This is my fifth Macworld Expo as a MacBU employee, and each year I've spent at least a couple of days working in the booth and answering questions. Every year, our product team staffs that booth. We get some help from our MVPs because they've got experience that we don't (I've certainly never written a 300+ page book in Word like John McGhie has, and I don't have the kind of Exchange experience that Paul Robichaux does), and we hire a couple of temps to help direct people to the right member of the product team. The vast majority of the people working in our booth are us, the product team. We learn a lot about our users by working in the booth, which is why I've said that Macworld Expo rocks for software developers. We care deeply about the platform, and we want to do the right thing, and yes: we go to Macworld and let you talk to the people who are the engineers and designers who made the product they're promoting.
Go visit the indies too: I do this every year, and it's certainly one of my favourite parts of the show to see what the other Mac developers are up to. But don't skip us because you think we've just hired glossy booth babes to try to convince you to buy our apps. Bring your questions, bring your requests, and talk to the people who are going to go back to their offices in Mountain View and Redmond to deliver the products that you use every day.