WWDC: The San Francisco Problem
"San Francisco is expensive" isn't a new headline by a longshot. But that's usually a complaint most of us avoid by knowing better than to live anywhere near there. If you're an iOS or Mac developer it's starting to hit home, though, no matter where you live. I've heard "this might be my last WWDC" from so many friends (assuming they haven't already bagged their 2016 plans).
Why? WWDC travel expenses are at an all-time high, and the rate of increase is staggering. In 2014 I paid $600 to split a room downtown. That same room in 2016, again split, is costing me $1,500 for the week. That's more than double the price at the same hotel over two years. There are still some cheaper 2 and 3-star hotels within walking distance available for the low-low rate of ~$300 a night, but I expect those prices to dramatically increase over the next week as hotels adjust for the WWDC announcement.
Now that Apple does such a good job providing every developer with all the materials released at WWDC in a timely matter, not just attendees, it might be time to end the tradition of our yearly pilgrimage. A lot of us head to SF even if we don't win the WWDC ticket lottery, but "just be in town to hang out" is a lot harder to sell when it's approaching $2,000 USD for travel + accommodations. It takes a lot of privilege to write that check.
But I think that's OK. While it's a shame to end the WWDC tradition, it makes sense to follow all the other technical communities out there and rely on smaller, more accessible and distributed, community-run conferences throughout the year. It's a sign that our community growing up and leaving the nest. One city can't hold us all anymore.
I can easily attend 3 of these smaller conferences for what I'm paying to be in town for WWDC this year.
For many people breaking the tradition will save them a lot of money while improving their overall experience. It's a lot easier to forge lasting connections at a smaller 100 - 400 person conference than it is at the loud afterparties of WWDC. And while WWDC is basically required reading usually watched at 1.5x speed, community conferences have some of the most insightful talks around. For example Michael Jurewitz's Thriving in an App Store World from Çingleton 2012 was arguably the video to watch in 2012 for anyone making a living on the App Store, but you'd never see something like that on stage at WWDC.
I really believe these kinds of conferences are the best use of our money. I've made more lasting connections and done more to improve my indie business, through smaller conferences than anything I've done at WWDC.
To that end, I want to encourage more people to try something new. For the next 24 hours (through April 20th at noon eastern time), you can use the coupon code "COMMUNITY" to save 10% off your CocoaLove ticket.
CocoaLove is Philly's iOS and Mac conference which not only gives you great talks that don't deprecate by the next WWDC, but also focuses on making sure you build lasting connections with the other 100+ attendees. I promise you'll leave feeling inspired and full of tons of great ideas.
I really do think community conferences are the sustainable way forward for our community. I wanted to see WWDC refugees consider community conferences, even if it wasn't CocoaLove. Much like app developers, we organizers want to see each other succeed. So I talked to the organizers of many upcoming conferences about doing the same, and they all agreed. We don't want to see people left out of the community just because they can't afford San Francisco. If CocoaLove isn't your thing, totally cool, go check out the other conferences participating in this 24-hour sale.
They're all great conferences; find the one that appeals most to you and go! I hope to see you at one of them (I'll be attending, speaking at, or running half of them ;) ).