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Apple is growing; why not WWDC?

John Cox | April 26, 2013
Tickets to annual conference sell out in 2 minutes

If everything Apple does is growing so well, why isn't the company "growing" its Worldwide Developers Conference?

Tickets for WWDC 2013, June 10-14 in San Francisco, went on sale at 1 p.m. EDT today. By 1:02 p.m. EDT, they were gone.

People trying to log in or complete their purchase suddenly found themselves staring at the WWDC equivalent of the Blue Screen of Death: "Sorry, tickets are sold out. However, you will still be able to take advantage of great WWDC content. Stay tuned for exciting announcements on videos and more."

That's not likely to mollify the many disappointed and angry developers, though it may hint that Apple is considering faster posting of WWDC sessions on video, instead of waiting until the conference is over, or possibly granting some kind of online access.

Last year, tickets sold out in under two hours, sparking anger from West Coasters who woke up to learn tickets were gone before they even knew they were available. 

For 2013, Apple this week pre-announced the time when tickets would become available, so everyone knew. But the forewarning may only have intensified the anger and disappointment over the abrupt sellout. Developers and users took to online forums today to complain.

"I'd say one event a year no longer suffices," wrote Andy-V in a comment at MacRumors.

"I logged in at 1pm EST....looks like i should have pre logged in because typing my email/password took too long :(," posted Rudy69.

"Sold out in 90 seconds," wrote abhsc. "Crazy, I managed to sign in and then had an error page again and again, then sold out. Appalling."

Another, Sweetbrat, disagreed with MacRumors' Eric Slivka, who praised Apple's slick processing of the huge transaction load. "There were a lot of people that received errors as they were trying to confirm their tickets, so it didn't go as smoothly as you seem to think." Sweetbrat wrote. "Apple really needs to find a better way to handle this. A lottery might be a better option. When 'first come, first served' becomes luck of the draw based on if the site is working or not, something needs to change."

Their complaints underline a striking mismatch. At this week's earnings conference call, Apple CEO Tim Cook touted Apple's growth in revenues, profits, in sales of iPhones and iPads, in the number of apps being written, published and downloaded on the iTunes App Store. All of which shows a still growing wave of new users and new developers to the Apple ecosystem.

Yet, WWDC attendance remains, apparently, a single event, capped at 5,000.

It's not as though this is, or should be, a surprise to Apple event planners. After last year's two-hour sellout, Ars Technica's Jacqui Cheng underlined the problem with a pointed headline: "Can Apple revamp the WWDC ticket system? Does it want to?"


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