Apple’s decision to no longer participate in MacWorld comes as a surprise given it was the place where Apple and Steve Jobs unveiled the latest goodies for the MacNation.

Clearly, Apple no longer sees MacWorld as a necessary evil so stepping aside is not a big deal in the scheme of things. Apple has more than enough marketing clout and brand momentum to deliver its message in other ways than a traditional trade show.

The bigger question is whether Apple’s decision reflects a growing trend away from trade shows. It used to be that trade shows served a valuable function as a place where companies could showcase their technology and interact with customers and potential customers, while industry members could network.

Today, a lot of this activity no longer needs to happen at a convention centre. Instead, the showcasing, interacting and networking can be done online at a much lower cost. Blogs, for example, have become an increasingly useful and valuable vehicle for companies to reach out to customers. As well, companies are getting more creative in creating events that are more intimate and less expensive.

In many respects, many trade shows are dinosaurs that no longer serve the role they once did. If Comdex – which used to be the mother of all trade shows – can bite the dust, anyone can.

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