This year, Apple took a different approach to selling tickets to their annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC or “dub, dub” as some devs call it).
They announced a day ahead of time when the tickets would go on sale instead of taking the traditional approach of selling tickets as soon as the announcement went out.
With the conference selling out faster every year (last year tickets went in two hours), pre-announcing the sale at least gave everyone a fair shot at getting a ticket. Last year, tickets were gone before most people on the west coast even knew they had gone on sale.
So, at 10 am PST yesterday, the mad scramble began.
Two minutes later, it was over.
Sold out. 5,000 tickets were gone.
A lot of well known developers were unhappy on Twitter because Apple’s system blocked them from completing their transaction. There were a number of complaints of people who had the ticket in their carts, but could not complete the transaction before tickets were sold out.
Apple has been reaching out to some of those individuals by phone and giving them a second chance at getting a ticket. They’re also increasing the speed of when the session videos will be available, promising that they’ll be available during the conference.
There are still a lot of developers left out in the cold, though.
How do they fix it?
One option, some argue, would be to provide a lottery system. In a way, they’ve kind of already done that.
If they make it more organized, then how do you determine who qualifies for the lottery? Do they add qualifications to it above just having a developer membership?
One thing they could do, I think, would be to offer a 1 day pass. The one day pass would basically only allow people into the first day of sessions, which would cover the keynote and the overview sessions.
The firehose of information usually doesn’t get turned on until day 2.
They may have to scale things up for that first day, but it might eliminate some of the people (like press) who buy tickets and only attend the first day of sessions.
Another option. They could scale up the conference. I saw someone mention that JavaOne hosts 20,000 in Moscone.
That sounds easy, right?
Apple sends 1,000 engineers to the conference and makes them available to answer developers questions. Right now, that’s a 5 to 1 ratio of attendees to engineers. If you scale things up to 20,000, then that ratio goes up to 20 to 1.
Okay, then, someone argues – send more engineers.
Assuming Apple has the manpower, that means they could be pulling more guys off major projects. They may be able to mitigate that to some extent, but I don’t know if they have enough manpower to keep the 5 to 1 ratio.
It’s more than just the engineers, though. What about sessions?
Even when I went in 2009, some sessions were impossible to get into. I’ve heard that the problem hasn’t gotten better, and that’s with only 5,000 attendees.
How much harder will sessions be to get into when you have 10,000 or 20,000 people trying to get in?
They could repeat sessions, maybe. But, there again, you’re pulling engineers away from labs to present multiple times.
Okay – how about this? Let’s host multiple WWDC’s either in San Francisco or regional ones around the world.
The major challenge there is that now you have to pull engineers off for additional weeks to attend multiple WWDC’s. If you host it outside of San Francisco, now you have to spend the time and money sending developers to location X.
Certainly, Apple could afford to do that. Can they afford to take engineers away from their projects for the additional weeks?
Here’s another thing for you to think about? I may be wrong, but I thought I had read something in the stories about the new “mothership” headquarters in Cupertino being large enough to host WWDC there.
Could they scale the conference up and host it at the “mothership”?
While I would love for Apple to do something to allow more developers to attend WWDC, there are no easy solutions.