Conferences selling out forget about the rest of the world

2011 seems to be a good year for both Google I/O and Apple’s WWDC. Google I/O sold out in 59 minutes and Apple’s WWDC sold out in under 10 hours. They’re both held at the Moscone Center and I guess the caps for attendance is usually set at about 4,000-5,000 attendees.Flinders Street Station

My only beef with this is that the rest of the world is forgotten. It’s only good for the developer sitting in North America (or a similar timezone). In fact folk that need to get corporate approval are probably also forgotten. Launching at 9 or 10am PST is past midnight in China and Singapore for example. Its even later in Japan. What about developers sitting in Sydney & Melbourne?

Google takes an open approach to this. They will have live streaming available and are organising extended events (which again, think about the timezones — they work if you’re all together in San Francisco but you’d be hard pressed to find a venue that will let in twenty geeks at 2-6am). Apple will provide recorded video later to registered developers.

However developers in the rest of the world miss out on all the interactions, face-to-face sessions, hands-on labs, meeting other developers, and all the parties and late-nights in where partnerships get made, and new ideas get formed. The networking is why people go to these conferences, in addition to learning about the latest and greatest. I remember years back at WWDC that people will install the latest beta of OS X on their laptops at WWDC itself!

Sun Microsystems used to boast that JavaOne had over 15,000 attendees. Oracle OpenWorld claims over 41,000 attendees. Maybe its time to grow out of Moscone West and use the whole Moscone Center?

I urge Google and Apple to think about the rest of the world. Yes, we will take time out of our schedules to fly to San Francisco, put up at a hotel, all for the opportunity at being at one of these conferences. Not only for the content, but all the relationships we will make, with other attendees and of course, your engineers.