The gloomy US economy extended its cloud over Fall Comdex in Las Vegas last week, sparking rumours that the show ownership might be about to change hands.
Exhibitor numbers were down about a third on last year and big losses at Key3Media, Comdex’s organiser, might mean the sale of the event.
One possible buyer is the company that runs CeBIT, the massive IT show staged each March in Germany.
Chris Dowgalski, who owns a Rotorua IT services company and is a regular at overseas trade shows, says CeBIT has sound organisation in its favour.
“It’s just superb. You arrive in Hanover and there’s a show office in town and at the railway station, and trains running to CeBIT every couple of minutes.”
Dowgalski used to make an annual visit to Comdex Asia, but says the event is no longer run. Comdex has since been grafted on to Networld+Interop in Sydney, and this year was run in March.
Dowgalski say the value of trade shows is to get an advance look at new technology.
“It’s very valuable to be able to get a look at innovative technology, often six months before it becomes available here.”
Rob Clarke, an Auckland IT consultant, attended Fall Comdex in 1990 and recalls the huge scale of the event.
“It was big; the exhibition space covered six football fields.”
Hard-core Comdex goers used roller-skates to get around all the exhibits, Clarke says.
“I saw all of it. I went around the whole place twice. If you were at all a geek, everything was there.”
The difference between Comdex and local shows, according to Clarke, is that in Las Vegas “you get to talk to the guys who invented” the latest technology.
Despite the cloud over this year’s event, the show did go on. DaimlerChrysler CIO Susan Unger described in a session on return on investment how the company is saving tens of millions of dollars from a Lotus Notes-based cost management system.
Linux vendors behind the UnitedLinux effort used the show, which is traditionally dominated by Microsoft and partners, to release the first production version of their combined Linux server distribution for big organisations.
UnitedLinux 1.0 is the product of a combined development effort from Linux vendors SuSE Linux, TurboLinux, The SCO Group and Conectiva.
The Open Mobile Alliance (OMA), meanwhile, introduced eight new technical specifications for mobile data applications. The group is a standards body for the mobile phone and wireless computing industry, and the specifications are the first phase of a three-phase release programme.
The specifications could allow developers, for instance, to write applications once and deploy them seamlessly across a plethora of devices, including cellphones, handhelds and other wireless devices, and across networks worldwide, the OMA says.