Much Ado About WWDC

There has been some varied chatter over the last couple days about what can be done regarding WWDC. For those that aren’t familiar, WWDC is Apple’s annual developer event that happens in San Francisco every June. It’s where the new version of iOS is announced, and developers can attend sessions and labs to learn about these features.

I’ve gone every year for the last several; my first WWDC was in 2011.

There has been increasing angst each year as two things happen: tickets become harder to get (though the lottery seems to have leveled the playing field), and hotels get ever more expensive. I’ve stayed at the same hotel for the last three years. My final bill each year is as follows:

Year Bill (USD)
2013 $1123.46
2014 $2036.58
2015 $2043.70
2016 ~$2500

Naturally, I haven’t paid the 2016 bill yet, but that’s what my reservation has me down for.

This is a 225% increase since 2013. For the same hotel. One that is roughly 5 blocks from Moscone. Yikes.

This $2500 hotel room is on top of the $1600 conference ticket, if I’m lucky enough to win one. So my hopeful WWDC trip starts at $4000, and I haven’t flown there yet. Flights from the nearest large airport are roughly $500 round trip.

I’m looking at $4500 and I haven’t yet eaten anything outside of the Apple-provided breakfasts and lunches.

For so many of us—most of us—this is a non-starter. Hell, I could buy a car for that kind of money.

So what can Apple do?

There was some Twitter chatter about this, and Charles Perry had the same idea I had been kicking around:

Vegas seems like the obvious answer, for all the reasons Charles laid out. Unfortunately, I don’t think WWDC can ever really move away from San Francisco.

Tim at WWDC

As Tim Cook tells us during every WWDC keynote, Apple generally sends around a thousand developers to speak, work the labs, and be available to developers. To move all of them to Vegas is a tremendous burden. The burden isn’t just financial, either. Quite obviously, Apple has enough money to charter some very nice airplanes to fly from SFO to LAS.

Moving all those engineers would mean more than just moving 1000 bodies to Las Vegas. It would also mean disrupting the lives of 1000 families. Which is a considerably larger burden to bear.

WWDC is not perfect. It’s announced frustratingly late for American travelers, and uncomfortably late for foreign ones. It’s expensive, and exclusive. People doubt its worth every year. As do I. But every year, I hope to be lucky enough to make it back. When it’s all over, I’m always glad I’ve participated.