In a move almost as dramatic as Apple pulling out of the show or Steve Jobs not showing up for a keynote, Macworld Expo has moved its dates to February for its 2010 run. While this suits many US West Coast visitors, it has frustrated UK attendees who usually visit both Macworld Expo and CES in one trip. It also now effectively clashes with Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Now Macworld Expo now longer runs the risk of clashing with the larger Consumer Electronics Show (CES) tech show in Las Vegas.

However, potential UK attendees are annoyed that they now cannot visit both Macworld Expo and CES in one transatlantic trip.

PR man Robert Follis also points out that the new dates for Macworld Expo also make it difficult to attend both it and the increasingly important Mobile World Expo.

Follis explained: "Like many Europeans, I have for years combined a visit to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas with one to Macworld in San Francisco. Attending both shows is vital to anyone in the Mac/AV industry and having both in early January meant that this was easy.

"Moving to 9th - 13th February means probably missing Macworld as not only would it mean another US trip, but the new dates run very close to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which starts setting up on 14th February.

"I guess that as with many decisions made by Americans, setting the new dates ignored Yoorop and the rest of the world."

CES 2010: January 7-10, 2010 (Las Vegas)

Macworld Expo 2010: February 9-13, 2010 (San Francisco)

Mobile World Congress: February 15-18, 2010 (Barcelona)

The 2010 edition of Macworld Conference and Expo will kick off on 9 February at San Francisco's Moscone Center and run through 13 February. The conference portion of the show, slated for the Moscone West hall, will run from Tuesday through Saturday. The expo portion, to be held in Moscone North, runs from Thursday through Saturday.

The decision to move the annual Mac conference from its traditional January date to early February results from feedback from Expo exhibitors, said Paul Kent, vice president and general manager of Macworld Expo.

In talking to exhibitors, Kent said, Expo organisers were told that the old January date posed logistic hurdles for developers, who found themselves rushing over the holidays to complete code, ship products to San Francisco, and travel for the trade show. Moving the event to February is aimed at relieving some of that pressure.

"One of the biggest points of feedback we received was having the date moved," Kent said.

The 2010 Expo will also put a greater emphasis on show specials and shopping; giving attendees a Saturday to walk the floor and see third-party products should encourage that, Kent added.

The show floor will only be open for three days in 2010, after running for four days in previous years. But Kent said that will be factored into new rates for exhibitors - an attempt by Expo organizers to offer attractive pricing in light of the faltering economy.

The future of Macworld Expo had been up in the air since December when Apple announced that the 2009 conference would be the last time it participated in the annual Mac trade show.

In announcing its decision to part ways with Macworld Expo, the company released a statement contending that trade shows "have become a very minor part of how Apple reaches its customers."

Indeed, in recent years, Apple has scaled back its participation in a number of trade shows, including the NAB show aimed at video professionals, the NAMM event for the music-making industry, Apple Expo, a consumer-focused trade show in Paris, and MacExpo in London.

"The increasing popularity of Apple's Retail Stores, which more than 3.5 million people visit every week, and the website enable Apple to directly reach more than a hundred million customers around the world in innovative new ways," Apple said in its December Expo announcement.

One of the shows Apple stopped participating in has special resonance for IDG World Expo - the summer Macworld Expo that once targeted east coast Mac users. In 2002, IDG World Expo announced it would move the event from New York back to its original site in Boston; Apple immediately announced it would not participate in the Boston show. IDG World Expo ended the Boston version of Macworld Expo just two years after moving the show from New York.

Kent believes the San Francisco edition of Macworld Expo - which celebrated its 25th anniversary this past January - can avoid a similar fate. "The lesson of Macworld Boston is that the show needs to evolve," Kent said. "[Tuesday's announcement] is the first communication of many that shows we're listening to our customers."

IDG World Expo - which, like PC Advisor is owned by International Data Group - has been soliciting exhibitor and attended feedback ever since Apple announced plans to drop out of the event. Organisers held a town hall meeting during January's Expo and have set up a suggestion box on the Expo Web site to get more ideas.

"The No. 1 thing that people tell us is that the thing they love about Macworld Expo is discovering third-party products," Kent said. "And the No. 2 thing is meeting interesting people."

Kent believes organisers have a good foundation in place for next year's show. Already, 10,000 people have registered for the event, and 90 percent of the faculty from the 2009 conference agreed to come back to the 2010 event. Exhibitor interest has also been strong.

"We walked out of Macworld 2009 with 90 letters of intent [from exhibitors for the 2010 expo]," Kent said. "We're open for business for people to sign up for the show."

The date changes won't be the last announcement you hear from Expo organizers, Kent added. "This is the first in a series of announcements that will continue to show how Expo is evolving," he said.