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When Tech Meets Hollywood: Celebrities Flock to Re-Invented Macworld/iWorld

Growing up in Baltimore, I was always told two things about California before moving here: all the celebrities live in Los Angeles and the world’s most innovative technologies come from the Bay Area. In late January, the two merged at the 29th Annual Macworld/iWorld event, right here in San Francisco, and Schwartz MSL was lucky to be part of the action as the agency of record for the show.

Let’s start with some back story, shall we? For years, the Macworld Conference & Expo was known as the annual event where Apple unveiled its next game-changing technology. Over the years, iTunes (2001), the original iPhone (2007) and the MacBook Air (2008) all debuted at the show. In 2008, following several monumental shifts in the tech world—including the expanding social web, a continuous shift to mobile and growth of its own retail chain—Apple announced its decision to forego all trade events. As a result, Macworld found itself at a crossroads: should it stay the course with a tried and true format (trade show plus conference) or evolve into a lifestyle event?

Last year, Macworld answered that question, rebranding itself as “Macworld/iWorld: The Ultimate iFan Event.” While 2012 tested the waters, in 2013, the new formula took hold. While the event still caters to the diehard Apple fanboys and fangirls who made the event what it is today, an expanded focus on the many ways that Apple technology drives creativity and innovation now aims to bring in new audiences. This year, the show floor and a variety of education sessions and live experiences showcased the impact of Apple technology on how we live, work and play. And nothing brought that intersection to live more than some of the celebrity talks. Here are just a few of our highlights:

 

Film
“Playing Steve and Woz”JOBS, the feature film set to explore the legacy of Apple, will be hitting theatres April 9. What better place to preview the film than Macworld/iWorld? The stars of the film, Ashton Kutcher and Josh Gad, spoke to a packed house about what it was like to play Apple founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, respectively, and what Apple means to them in their own lives. Steve Jobs was a pretty mysterious guy, so buzz surrounding the film was sure to be off the charts in front of his biggest fans. You could even argue that like the Continuum Transfunctioner, Jobs’ mystery is only exceeded by his power. Movie lovers at this year’s show were also treated to the iPhone Film Festival, which highlighted films made entirely on iPhones.

Television
“Fred Armisen Talks Tech” – With over ten years under his belt as an SNL cast member, Fred Armisen is without question the heart and soul of this year’s cast. Anybody who watches Armisen on Saturday nights can tell you that his passion for Apple shines through his characters, having recently played a Foxconn factory worker, and previously, Steve Jobs himself.  Armisen’s talk gave an entertaining look into the many ways he uses Apple devices in his everyday life, and as a co-writer/co-producer on IFC’s excellent series, “Portlandia.”  Still no word on the overwhelming number of birds scattered around the Expo Hall after his presentation, though.

Design
“Futurehunting” – Black Eyed Peas musician will.i.am is a futurist. Just read the cover story in last month’s Fortune, and you’ll learn all about his visions for the future of technology. Big brands are taking note too- several of the world’s biggest companies are tapping will.i.am’s mind to help them explore what’s next in the tech world. At this year’s Macworld/iWorld, will.i.am made us say “Boom Boom WOW,” stopping by to give an hour-long Tech Talk with Intel Futurist Brian David Johnson, discussing how the merge of tech, culture and fashion will challenge and expand traditional thinking in the tech world. “Don’t think outside the box,” he suggested, “Kick the box and make it a circle.” The singer also showed off his extremely cool tech meets fashion device, the foto.sosho. Unfortunately, Taboo couldn’t make it. Crossing my fingers for next year.

While an emphasis was placed on celebrity this year, don’t let this fool you- the stars of this year’s show were, and always will be, the coolest apps, software and technology that makes the life of every iFan easier, more stylish and more fun. Some of our favorites include JAM (they brought a monkey), Bowblade (A bow-and-arrow accessory that helps you prepare for the inevitable zombie apocalypse) and Double Robotics (an iPad robot- seriously.)

Interested in learning more about Macworld/iWorld? Make sure to follow the Expo on Twitter at @MacworldExpo, and free up February 1-3, 2014 on your calendars- we’ll see you next year in San Francisco!

 

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