Apple's WWDC sells out; scalpers price tickets up to $4,600

WWDC interest soars because devs heeded Steve Jobs' 'post-PC' pitch, says tools maker

Apple on Monday sold out its annual developers conference in record time.

The quick sell-out has prompted several people to scalp tickets on eBay and Craigslist, with some priced as high as $4,599, nearly triple the sticker price of $1,599.

The Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, which runs June 6-10, sold out yesterday in under 12 hours, dramatically faster than last year when it took eight days to run out of tickets, and in 2009, when almost a month passed before Apple exhausted its supply.

Tickets for WWDC were priced at $1,599 Monday, the same as for the 2010 edition of the conference.

But people with extra activation codes -- Apple allows developers to each buy multiple tickets, then hand out the activation codes to colleagues -- have taken advantage of the high demand to shill their tickets at sky-high prices.

On Tuesday, eBay showed seven WWDC ticket listings, with prices ranging from a low of $2,125 to a high of $4,599. The latter is a "Buy It Now" price, meaning a customer can secure the ticket at that price without going through the auction process.

The ticket with the most bids stood at $3,000 at 3 p.m. ET.

And a pair of tickets on the New York and San Francisco editions of Craigslist have asking prices of $2,400 and $2,500, respectively. The California seller had priced his extra WWDC ticket Monday at $2,000, but bumped up the price by $500 several hours later.

"I can deal for 2500 only and by bank transfer," said Rohit Sethi, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based Craigslist seller, in an e-mail reply to questions. "If you have any friends in bay area I can give them the code in person and they can activate on the spot too for authenticity by giving money in person."

Only Apple-registered developers may attend WWDC, but the entry bar is low: Programmers pay only $99 for a year's membership to the Cupertino, Calif. company's developer program, and there are no other eligibility requirements.

Apple does not explicitly bar WWDC ticket resale. The company did not immediately reply to questions about its resale policy, or whether it would take any action against public reselling.

The popularity of this year's WWDC didn't surprise Scott Schwarzhoff, the vice president of marketing at Appcelerator, the company best known for its multi-platform Titanium development tool.

"The message from [CEO Steve] Jobs at the launch of the iPad 2, that this is the 'post-PC world' is hitting home," said Schwarzhoff, citing Apple's message that the iPad specifically, and tablets in general, mark a move away from netbook and laptop computers. "If you want to be part of that post-PC world, as a developer you need a ticket, and that ticket is WWDC."

Schwarzhoff also argued that while the iPod and iPhone have been successes for Apple, the iPad is the first to really pique the interest of business software developers. "You're seeing demand [for WWDC] from the more traditional IT and computing industry because of the iPad," he said. "The iPad is affecting areas that previously weren't affected by a pure consumer device."

Appcelerator managed to score a pair of WWDC tickets yesterday before the event sold out.

"But now we've got a kind of internal eBay thing going on," said Schwarzhoff, where engineers who want to go to the conference are trying to convince him to give up his team's ticket for various favors.

WWDC isn't the only developer event to be targeted by scalpers. Last month, Google's I/O conference, slated to run May 10-11, sold out in under an hour. The $450 tickets quickly hit resell sites at multiple times their face value.

Google I/O ticket prices on eBay currently range from $500 to $2,950.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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