pple's withdrawal from the MacWorld trade show certainly arrived as a bombshell when the announcement was made on Wednesday. But what does it mean for the smaller companies the decision directly affects?
There have already been dozens of reaction pieces already penned (Sascha Segan and Lance Ulanoff have already provided their takes.) I chatted with a few vendors and analysts this morning, asking them what they thought about Apple's decision, and what it might mean if Apple's senior vice-president of marketing Phil Schiller took a more prominent role at the company.
Ross Rubin, a director of industry analysis at retail analyst NPD, said that Apple's decision doesn't necessarily doom tech trade shows in general, including the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in January.
"Apple pulling out of Macworld Expo is not an indictment of tech trade shows," he said. "Apple is in a unique position in terms of not only having a direct physical channel but what it does within it. With Macworld Expo and [Ziff-Davis'] DigitalLife we have, however, seen events that are open to the public struggle to make their ROI case with technology companies here in the U.S. That said, IFA in Europe is a large technology show that is open to the public, at least for part of the event."
But for MacWorld, Apple's departure may be the kiss of death.
JupiterMedia vice president Michael Gartenberg noted that the Internet gives most companies an easy way to reach companies. "If you're relying on MacWorld to reach your target audience, you have larger problems," he said.
"The only thing propping up MacWorld was Apple. Even Adobe had pulled out this year," Gartenberg said. "Without Apple, there is no reason for that show to exist."
Two of the vendor contacts I spoke to wanted to speak on background, for fear of offending Apple and its sometimes irascible chief executive, Steve Jobs. But all expressed concern about Jobs' health, and several wondered whether it was, as one pundit put it, Jobs' politics or his pancreas that caused Apple to pull out. "Let's face it: he's the face of this industry," one Mac software executive said.
It was perhaps an odd comment, given that the executive's next few statements concerned his presence at MacWorld, and how his company's products might fare better in terms of attention.
"Be realistic, here: after the Jobs keynote is done, how much time do tech outlets like PC Magazine spend walking the show floor and covering the little guys?" he said. "It's MacBook, MacBook, iPod, maybe some software and we're outa here." Now that Apple has pulled out, it might give his company a bit more of a chance to shine, he said.
That directly contradicted a statement I received from Ten One Design, which designed what the company claims is the first iPhone stylus. "Apple's cachet rules the Macworld show floor," the company said. "As an exhibitor, it makes us feel a part of something larger than ourselves. Exhibiting in 2010 without that brand association would be much less compelling."
A statement from iPod case maker Agent 18 struck a middle ground. "Macworld is great time to get a feel for the market and meet with the Apple worldwide teams, but the event itself does not affect our relationship with Apple in this day-and-age of video-Chat and email," the company said in an email. "Apple not participating in the show will greatly reduce the excitement of the show, but we'll continue to attend the show for the next few years. We do expect the 2010 Apple developers event to be bigger than it's ever been."
On Thursday, the owner of Acrylic Software said that even smaller companies didn't need to congregate in a physical space.
"Pulling out altogether was a bit more of a shocker, and it's pretty safe to say that without Apple, the show is done,"Dustin MacDonald wrote in an email. "Independent Mac software developers have been using the expo over the years to get some great exposure and connect with new customers. However, times are changing, and like Apple has concluded, there are really just more practical ways to reach customers these days other than trade shows - even for smaller companies.
Both the software executive I spoke to and another in the Mac peripherals business felt that there would still be some Mac community events if MacWorld folded. (MacWorld, the publication, reported Wednesday that the Apple Paris Expo would also be closed.) "It's not going away," the executive said. "The Mac community is too tightly knit. Maybe we'll have to go back to the days of user groups, but there will always be an opportunity for us to meet, exchange ideas, and sell products."
Apple said Tuesday that senior vice president of marketing Phil Schiller will give the keynote address at Macworld, a decided second fiddle to Jobs. In shifting the topic to Schiller, I made reference to the "reality distortion field" Jobs sometimes seems to project. "Schiller doesn't have that," the second executive said. "He's..."
"Human?" I asked.
The executive laughed. "I'd say more down to earth."
Jobs, as most geeks know, has a uniform: black turtleneck, black or blue jeans. What I didn't realize is that Schiller appears to have one, too: blue shirt, usually short-sleeved, and blue dress pants or jeans. No logos anywhere. (Compare his outfit in this YouTube video, this one, this third one, plus this last one, where Schiller appears in a long-sleeved shirt.
"Keep in mind this isn't the first time Steve Jobs has been absent from a keynote, and we've been seeing him share speaking roles for quite some time now with other high-up Apple executives, including Phill Schiller, Scott Forstall, and Tim Cook," Acrylic's MacDonald said. "Schiller himself has always had a large role in the keynotes for as long as I can remember. So I'm actually not convinced this particular announcement means Jobs will stop doing keynotes anytime soon or is taking a lesser role in the company; it probably just means the keynote itself won't be the kind we're used to seeing at Macworld, perhaps indicating lesser announcements."
As Gartenberg pointed out, Schiller is essentially the number-two man at Apple. According to his official bio, Schiller has spent seventeen years at Apple.
"What we may be seeing is a more expanded visibility for these executives," Gartenberg said. "It's a way of reminding people that there are 20,000 to 25,000 employees at Apple, not just Steve."
Originally posted at Gearlog. This story was updated at 6:57 AM PDT on Nov. 18 with comments from Acrylic Software.
Microsoft: Zero Data Retention Not Possible to Keep Search Engines Viable
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Yahoo's time reduction of users' search engine data storage from 13 to 3 months caught the eye of privacy advocates, who called for Google to lead the way toward a zero retention policy. Microsoft's privacy guru Brendon Lynch explains why this just isn't possible to ensure Live Search performs as a quality Web service. The issue seems headed for some resolution in 2009, with search engine providers meeting with the European Commission in February.
Yahoo's reduction of its duration for user log data retention has some industry watchers calling for Google and Microsoft to do the same and predicting that pressure from government regulators' will lead to zero retention policies in search next year.
Brendon Lynch, director of privacy strategy at Microsoft, told eWEEK zero retention policies are just not possible for Microsoft without denigrating the quality of its Live Search offering, among other issues.
The issue sparked Dec. 17 when Yahoo pledged to reduce the period it saves the user log data its search engine gathers -- user queries, IP addresses and cookies that create digital trails -- from 13 months to 3 months. Yahoo, Google and Microsoft argue that data about users is necessary to provide quality search, protect users from malicious users and scam artists.
The move by Yahoo, the No. 2 search engine provider, is easily the most aggressive to data. Search leader Google pared its data retention period from 18 months to 9 in September. No. 3 player Microsoft has been stuck at 18 months since July 2007, though it has said it would be willing to go down to six months if Google and Yahoo agreed to do the same.
Yet Yahoo's move was received with cautious praise by some privacy advocates who believe Yahoo, Google and Microsoft can do better. Peter Eckersley, staff technologist with consumer rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation, told eWEEK:
This looks like an attempt by Yahoo to keep a lot of information that they can use for their own internal research and engineering purposes, while being able to say "it would be extremely hard for us to find your search history file in this huge stack of search history files that we keep". That's a big step in the right direction.
However, Eckersley noted that Yahoo still retains 24 of the 32 digits of users' IP addresses, which means that if Yahoo had someone's IP address, and wanted to find their search history, it could dig out fifty or a hundred files and say that one of them belongs to that person. A human, or more likely a statistical analysis program, could then read them and match a file to that person.
John Thompson, a privacy advocate for the non-profit consumer rights group Consumer Watchdog, said no less than a zero retention policy will suffice, arguing that since most users of Google or Yahoo return daily they are constantly providing a new stream of personal data. His group wants users to have the option to control their data and browse anonymously.
But Microsoft's Lynch said the search data Live Search collects has a number of uses. In addition to analyzing users' search queries to improve query relevancy, Lynch said user log data helps Microsoft Live Search thwart security threats, keep people from gaming search ranking results, and combat click fraud scammers.
Remembering Sammy Baugh
Sammy Baugh (1914-2008)
Legendary Redskins quarterback Sammy Baugh, 94, died Wednesday night. He was the last surviving member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's inaugural class.
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 18, 2008; 1:00 PM
Washington Post staff writer Joe Holley will be online Thursday, Dec. 18 at 1 p.m. ET to discuss the life of Redskins quarterback "Slingin'" Sammy Baugh, who passed away Wednesday.
Submit your questions and comments any time before or during today's discussion.
Holley co-wrote, Baugh's obituary, The First of the Gunslingers (Post, Dec. 18) and is writing a biography about the Hall of Fame football player.
Washington, D.C.: He was a great multi-faceted player -- passer, defensive back, and punter. I believe they did more drop and quick kicks back then, correct? Will the Skins have a tribute or something coming up? RIP Sammy...
Joe Holley: Sammy was, indeed, a superb athlete -- big hands, strong arm, mobile. Quick kicks on third down were a weapon a lot of teams used to back an opponent up close to their own goal line. Sammy once got off an 85-yarder.
Washington, D.C.: Do you know anything about Sammy's allegation that the 1940 championship game was lost on purpose to get back at Marshall, and what did Marshall do?
Joe Holley: I don't know about the allegation, although it's hard to believe he or any of his teammates would throw a game -- to get back at marshall or for any other reason. And seems like if they were trying to lose, they'd put on a bit better show, the way the Black Sox did in baseball or some of the point-shavers in basketball. 73-0 was just flat embarrassing.
Laurel, Md.: Baugh's career coincided with the years in which the Washington Senators baseball team began being perennial doormats (they had been a good team most of the 1920s-1933).
Was Washington among the first major cities to become primarily a football town during this period?
Joe Holley: Afternoon everybody. Washington became a football town in the late 1930s and into the 40s because of the flamboyant George Preston Marshall, who was apparently the consummate showman and publicist. And, of course, Baugh had a lot to do with it. He made football fun to watch by propelling the game out of its rugby past.
Catonsville, Md.: I dated a man many years ago who was proud to be related to Revoultionary War General Francis Marion. His mom, however, told me that they were cousins of Sammy Baugh, which I found much more impressive. As a testament to how big of a deal this was in Washington, in a crowded barbershop, all eyes looked at me when my boyfriend said to me across the room, "How am I related to Sammy Baugh?" It was at that moment that I understood what a true legend he is.
Joe Holley: I discovered the same thing a couple of years ago when I was doing "Redskins Journal" and asked tailgating fans at FedEx who they wished still played for the Redskins. I was surprised at how many mentioned Baugh, more than a half century after he played.
Poplar Bluff, Mo.: I may be mistaken, but isn't Drew Brees Sammy Baugh's grandson? If he is, what are his plans for this weekend's game. Thanks.
Joe Holley: Drew Brees is a Texan -- from Austin -- but I'm pretty sure he's not a grandson. I talked to David Baugh last night, Sammy's son, and got the family rundown; none of Sammy's children live in Austin.
Washington, D.C.: Sammy still holds the NFL record for punting average in a season (more than 51 yards) and is second in career average. I find this amazing given this era of punting specialists, indoor stadiums, better practice facilities and year round training. I also imagine today's balls are easier to kick too. Any explanation as to how he could still hold this record, other than freakish talent? Were there fewer punt returns back in the day and therefore he benefited from the ball bouncing for extra yards?
Joe Holley: I'm wondering if part of the reason is his penchant for quick kicks, which, by taking the defense by surprise on third down, say, the ball would likely roll a long way. Also, he worked on his kicking as assiduously as he did his passing. Numerous people have told me about how, even after he quit playing, he could place his punts as accurately as he could place a pass where he wanted it.
Chantilly, Va.: Joe: While I have long been a Sammy Baugh fan, I have heard that his single-season punting average record of 51.1 yds per kick is somewhat bogus because it includes quick kicks that often rolled for many yards since there was no one back to catch them. True or false?
Takes nothing away from Sammy's greatness, of course.
Joe Holley: There's probably something to that, but he was, indeed, a tremendous kicker -- long legs, a lot of leverage and good technique.
Bethany Beach, Del.: Will they do anything for Sammy Baugh at the game Sunday.
Joe Holley: I haven't heard, although they should.
Bowie, Md.: There's recently been an apparent spate of early deaths among NFL players from the '60s-'80s. Obviously, any player from that era who died must have been young, but the death rate has drawn some attention to the possible ill health effects of playing professional football.
Among players from Baugh's era, was 94 as common as it is in the general population?
Joe Holley: Keep in mind that these early guys didn't play year-round. Sammy went back to the ranch and worked cattle. Others were beer distributors or whatever they could find to do to make a living. So maybe they weren't subjected to the health hazards to the extent that more recent players are. Just a guess.
Lexington, Ky.: Did the shape of the football change about the time period that Sammy entered the league? Could this also be one reason why players like Sammy and Sid Luckman were able to exploit the pass.
Joe Holley: It certainly did. It got narrower and pebbled, which, of course, made it easier to hold. That being said, Sammy had large hands, a great advantaage, of course.
Silver Spring, Md.: Did Sammy Baugh ever comment on the Redskins' ban on black players? This wasn't much of a factor early in career, but by the end of his career most other NFL teams had added blacks to their rosters. I was wondering if he ever had anything to say about this horrible situation, which probably kept the Redskins from competing in the 1950s and early 1960s.
Joe Holley: I've been trying to find an answer to that question for the last couple of years. Our great sports guy, Shirley Povich, doesn't seem to have written about Sammy in particular re Marshall's ban on black players. Sammy's son David told me that Sammy went to Marshall and told him he ought to be signing black players -- because the team needed them. I can't confirm that.
Burke, Va.: Great article today. Thanks. I was quite ignorant about Sammy until reading it this morning. Seems to me that with the protections afforded QBs today, Sammy Baugh would be very successful. It amazes me that defenders would still be chasing him after the whistle blew! He obviously was one tough dude. Incredible.
Joe Holley: He also was relatively small, maybe 175 lbs., at 6-foot-2. He was a roper in later years, so he was tough after football as well.
Arlington, Va.: Why was Mr. Baugh so reluctant to travel far from home, such as to events here in D.C.? I know he certainly owed nothing to Dan Snyder or to the modern Redskins organization, but there are many people here (including me) who would have liked to show him their appreciation.
Joe Holley: From talking to his son and to old friends of his, I have the impression that he got sick of train and later plane travel when he was playing and coaching. And if you've ever been out to West Texas, where his Double Mountain Ranch is, you know how quiet and peaceful it is out there. After awhile, I suspect, city life just didn't seem all that appealing to him.
San Francisco: Thanks, that was a great article. If I were at the game Sunday I'd definitely try to wear #33 in his honor.
Joe Holley: Thanks for the kind words. I've seen fans of a certain age wearing leather helmets in his honor.
Anonymous: From the reading, it seems that Baugh never returned to DC after he finished playing. I find that very odd, especially with all the affection the community apparently had for Baugh. What's behind that?
Joe Holley: He hated to travel, didn't like city life.
Seattle: The great writer Dan Jenkins has a daughter, Sally, who is a colleague of yours at the Post. Have you ever discussed Baugh with her given that her father was well-acquainted with him?
Joe Holley: I haven't, although I should. She's a wonderful writer.
Arlington, Va.: Did Sammy enjoy coaching? He doesn't seem to have compiled a particularly good record at it. But I suppose playing talent doesn't always translate to coaching ability.
Joe Holley: I talked to Jerry Rhome the other day, who was a Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1964 at Tulsa. Sammy was Tulsa's quarterbacks coach for a season. Rhome said Sammy was a fine coach, who had a real knowledge of the game. I have the feeling that he missed the ranch too much to really focus on football during his years as a coach -- plus, what he had to work with at Hardin Simmons, the New York Titans and the Houston Oilers wasn't all that great.
Joe Holley: Thanks for the questions everybody -- and for your interest in my fellow Texan, Sammy Baugh.
Warrenton, VA: I still don't understand how, with the great Sammy Baugh playing, the Redskins lost 73-0 against the Bears in 1940, especially when they beat the Bears in other NFL title games.
Joe Holley: It's a mystery to me, as well. Shirley Povich, our legendary sportswriter, said it was just one of those days when everything went wrong. I suppose that could be the case.
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Las Vegas gets record snowfall, 3.6 inches
By KEN RITTER – 52 minutes ago
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Flights resumed in and out of Las Vegas, but schools and highways remained closed Thursday after a record-setting snowfall coated marquees on the Strip, weighed down palm trees and blanketed surrounding mountain areas.
The city awoke to clear weather after a storm that left 3.6 inches at McCarran International Airport. It was biggest December snowfall on record there, and the worst for any month since a 7 1/2-inch accumulation in January 1979, forecasters said.
The storm Wednesday and early Thursday also dumped snow or rain and snarled travel in other parts of Nevada, much of southern California and parts of northern Arizona.
"It looks like Whoville, all snowy, but with less joy and more extreme misery," said Calen Weiss, 19, who was stuck Wednesday when snow in the Cajon Pass east of Los Angeles disrupted travel on Interstate 15.
In Spokane, Wash., the weather service recorded 17 inches of snow in the 24 hours that ended at 4 a.m., breaking the record of 13 inches set in 1984. The city declared a "Condition Red" snow emergency, meaning crews will work 24 hours a day, seven days a week until they complete a full city plow.
For Las Vegas, the storm left heavy wet accumulations of snow along the famed Strip. At least one carport toppled under the accumulated weight, authorities said, and motorists in Henderson parked their cars and walked home when tires spun as they tried to navigate slippery uphill climbs.
Airlines resumed flights Thursday after canceling dozens of them late Wednesday, McCarran airport spokesman Jerry Pascual said.
"Visibility has lifted. The outlook for the day is much better," Pascual said as the sun rose Thursday. Pascual said just one flight had gotten out overnight and stranded travelers were forced to sleep on lounge seats and floors at the nation's sixth-busiest airport
In Arizona, snow was widespread in the state's higher elevations, with 24-hour accumulations reaching 10 inches in Flagstaff by daybreak. An additional 2 to 3 inches of snow was expected. Authorities said major highways were open but advised drivers to be careful of packed snow and ice.
In the western Washington state, the Seattle School District had been mocked by some for closing schools Wednesday with just a threat of snow. The threat became a reality by early Thursday, when 2 inches of snow left many commuters spinning their wheels on slippery roads.
The National Weather Service said the city even had an episode of "thundersnow" when a storm cell moved across Puget Sound.
Even Malibu, Calif., got a dusting of snow, as the usually balmy city saw a half-inch in the afternoon.
"It's kind of cool if you think about it, said Craig Levy, director of a juvenile detention camp. "It's kind of unusual to see snow in Malibu."
Associated Press writers Robert Jablon in Los Angeles, Elliot Spagat in San Diego and Nicholas K. Geranios in Spokane, Wash., contributed to this report