Macworld hits middle age

Instead of the usual gleeful fans captivated by all things Apple, attendees at this year’s Macworld-iWorld conference seemed to be suffering from iFatigue and the loss of their champion, Steve Jobs.

The first Macworld show was in 1985. Jobs’ last Macworld was 2008, and Apple formally pulled out entirely in 2009. 2012’s seemingly endless aisles of cases, apps and software did little to mask the sense of shock still present in the Apple community.

So to lighten the mood, my editor gave me a simple task: Find something fun.

The first glimmers of frivolity were two competing iPhone cases with built-in bottle openers. Both booths were attracting crowds.

The first was a simple iPhone case called Opena; you pull out a metal slide and out comes a bottle opener. Simple.

The next bottle opener, by Intoxicase, was a much higher-quality product with two different designs. An included app counts the number of bottles you open. Plus, they had a bubbly model popping bottles to demonstrate. People were lining up to buy them.

Personally, I had my eye on new photography products. A booth with a large crowd had a couple poles up in the air, one with a camera on it and the other with an iPhone.

FastCap is the company behind the iPole. Its concept is simple; take a small extendable pole and attach an iPhone to it for those overhead shots you always wanted.  It was a remarkable, affordable product that sold out the first day. FastCap had to ship more in for the rest of the show.

Another product that caught my attention was a lens system for the iPhone 4 called the iPro. It’s a small metal case plus two lenses — a wide angle and a fish eye — with the case also doubling as a tripod. The glass was developed by Schneider optics and was top-rate.  A great little toy for the pocket photographer.

Then finally, as the show wound down on Saturday, I spotted the fun I had been looking for. Leaving the Moscone Center on a never-ending escalator, the sound of drumming got louder and louder. I followed the sound from above that seemed to come from everywhere, and found a couple hundred people banging on every kind of drum and percussion instrument imaginable in a giant circle.

The looks on their faces as they played were blissful. Bystanders were watching in wonder, gripping their iDevices and taking video. As the people tapped and swayed I believe they heard in the drumming the spirit of Steve Jobs they had been missing from the show.

Finally some joy!