When your standard home town social media, public relations or tech meetup doesn’t sate your appetite for true geekiness, look to WWDC to save the day. I attended having published only a couple of apps in the App Store. It was a good choice.
The first reason you should go is the location. WWDC is held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco each year and you couldn’t ask for a better tech environment. All the biggies are out here: Apple, Yahoo, Google, Yelp, Zynga, WordPress, and dozens more. Many of these firms are related to what Apple is doing – even if it’s only via an app or two on iOS – so they show up for WWDC as well with a cocktail party or two just to meet developers and see what they’re working on. Also, many come to WWDC with the sole intent of hiring a developers to boost their own app programs. These parties are good opportunities for job seekers with app programming experience to make some great connections.
Second reason to go: the keynote. If you’re an Apple fanatic like I am, sitting in the same room as the live event is kind of like Christmas morning. YOU’RE GETTING TO SEE THIS LIVE, IN PERSON! This year was no let down, either. Apple unveiled an entirely new OS for iPhone and iPad that was very very different from anything before. Not exactly a clean slate, but a radical enough departure that many designers were up in arms about it immediately. On the hardware side, Tim Cook and his team previewed the new Mac Pro as well as releasing updates to the Air line of notebooks. This was two hours well spent.
The third reason: the beer. San Francisco has a great craft brew scene and all of the tech parties I went to were serving local, hoppy treats. Even the Apple Bash was serving Bitter American by 21st Amendment. There are several quality beer spots in SF that I made it out to including the Rogue Public House (where I tried Beard Beer – seriously), 21st Amendment, and ThirstyBear Brewing Company. All were worth a visit and highly recommended regardless of when you visit SF.
Fourth reason: The people you’ll meet. If you lean toward the introverted side like I do, you’ll find the crowd here easy to talk to and eager to talk about what they’re working on. No forced conversations and no silly small talk, just like I like it.
Why you shouldn’t go:
If you’re looking for something similar to SxSW and its varying levels of technical and non-technical sessions, WWDC will be a disappointment and the content could be intense. There are no social media, networking, marketing (aside from AltWWDC) panels to speak of. WWDC is about helping developers use the new tools that Apple has developed over the past year and give those developers hands-on, one on one assistance in working through any issues they may have integrating them into their apps.
Margie asked me if I’d go again and I would; however, I’d feel better about the experience if I had a current app in progress; something I could get specific feedback and advice on from the team of engineers that are there to help. If nothing else, this year’s WWDC has inspired me to get back into the iOS scene and start putting the new stuff to use for iOS 7.
If you’re not a (Apple-centric) developer, programmer or designer, there are a great number of conferences out there that are better uses of your time and money. I’d start with SxSW and Inc’s annual conferences as a starting point and look for niches from there, including PR, marketing and advertising. Additionally, start locally so you can make local connections as well as learn about a new technology or skill with the added bonus of being able to reach out to those folks for coffee or advice when the opportunity arises.