WWDC 2014

Today WWDC 2013 sold out in under two minutes, wow! That’s quite a thing - and judging by the number of disappointed developers in my twitter timeline quite a lot of people missed out. Although quite a lot of my friends got tickets so that’s great.

I didn’t get a ticket - but I didn’t even try as I’m already booked up on those dates :)

The fact that tickets sold out with such a frenzy shows that supply and demand are out of whack so here are my thoughts on what Apple should do next year.

Venue

Apple seem to limit WWDC to about 5,000 attendees, but Moscone can hold much more than this. Last year I attended both GDC and WWDC - both were held in Moscone but over 20,000 people attended GDC. Space is not the problem here, Apple only use one of the three parts of Moscone (four if you count the Westin Hotel :) The problem Apple have is the quality of the event. So is there a way to keep the quality high while meeting the demand for tickets? Maybe!

I don’t think Apple could fit over 20,000 people in due to a lot of space being taken up by the labs and download areas. Let’s say the maximum Apple would go for would be 15,000. How would this break down?

Talks

There is no need to put on more talks or have more people talking so the work that goes in to that from the Apple end stays the same (a lot). The number of people listening to each talk just increases. That can be taken care of by live streaming the talks to overflow rooms exactly as they do with the keynote on Monday morning. Make it easy by having the overflows next to the room the person is speaking in.

There is really no need to be in the same room as the person talking anyway and Apple already predict demand for talks and adjust room sizes accordingly. This has the added benefit that if done correctly the massive queues might calm down.

Labs

Labs are where the quality of WWDC shines through and I don’t think Apple have the will to deploy resources to expand the labs. But a lot of people don’t go to labs or do so for a short time. Certainly they don’t need room for 15,000 people.

I would take the labs out of the standard ticket price, so maybe lower the base price a bit, and then charge a small amount to attend each lab. Labs are already scheduled e.g. last year the new maps were interesting to a lot of people but labs for maps were only available for set times: 1100 - 1230 on Wednesday, 0900 - 1030 on Thursday or whatever. Maybe they would limit each attendee to four lab sessions or something if space was an issue.

This way demand can be anticipated and if you don’t need labs you get a cheaper ticket. And if you do need labs you know the lab is not going to be too busy.

Demand for Tickets

Let’s assume that this still isn’t enough and demand is still way larger than supply. I see two options:

1 - Allow people to register their interest in advance and have a straight forward lottery or

2 - Use some sort of points system where you get points based on your standing as a developer:

  • 1 point for each year registered as a developer
  • 1 point for each app on the App Store
  • 5 points if you attended WWDC last year
  • 3 points if you attended any year in the last 5
  • Half a point per Radar filed :)

Something like that which was at least in some way fair to the people who put the most in to the Apple ecosystem.

Social

I don’t see that expanding the numbers would have much of an affect on the social side of things. San Francisco can cope with the numbers no problem and any venue or party you want to get in to can only hold a few hundred people at most anyway so getting in to parties is going to be as hard as it every was.

Obviously the big Apple bash in YB Gardens would be harder to keep the same but maybe they could just have a lottery for this - it wasn’t great last year to be honest so I wouldn’t mind missing it ;)

Alternatives

Another possibility for the people who have no need for labs but want to see the talks might be to hold mini-conferences around the world at the same time: London, Sydney, Berlin, etc. For people who don’t need the labs this could be a great way to see the talks and have the social interaction with other developers.

For the labs Simon Wolf has an excellent suggestion on his blog that I think Apple should do anyway if possible.

I would love to read your thoughts on this so get blogging! :)