IBM ditched Comdex over booth squabble, organisers say

The backers of the Comdex computer trade show have hit back at IBM's statement that it will not attend next year's Las Vegas trade show because it no longer considers the event the best way to reach its customers. Lotus will also stay away. But according to the show's organisers, ZD Comdex & Forums, IBM walked out of a meeting set up to assign floor space at the show because its first choice of booth was handed over to a competitor.

Contrary to reasons offered by IBM, the computer maker pulled out of the next year's Comdex trade show in Las Vegas because of a squabble with the show's management over which booth it would be allowed to use, according to a statement released today by the show's organisers.

IBM confirmed earlier this week it will not attend the trade show -- one of the largest of its kind in the world -- saying it no longer considers the event the best way to reach its customers. Its Lotus subsidiary also will not attend.

But according to the show's organisers, ZD Comdex & Forums, of Needham, Massachusetts, IBM walked out of a meeting set up to assign floor space at the show because its first choice of booth was handed over to a competitor.

IBM contacted the show's organisers prior to the meeting and told them which spot on the show floor it was interested in. But when IBM officials showed up at the meeting they requested a different spot -- one that had already been snapped up by an IBM competitor, said Jason Chudnofsky, president and CEO of ZD Comdex, in a statement issued today.

IBM then said it would take the booth it had originally requested if ZD Comdex would make changes to the booth's layout. The organisers refused and proposed an alternative solution. While IBM executives mulled the alternative, another company stepped in and snapped up the booth under discussion, Chudnofsky said in the statement.

At that point the IBM representatives "left the booth selection process without any further discussion of alternatives," Chudnofsky said.

"If IBM is genuinely concerned about the effectiveness of the Comdex event ... we are concerned to engage in whatever conversations are required to understand their issues, and to work directly with them to develop solutions," the statement said.

"At the same time, since booth space at Comdex events is at such a premium, it is especially important that we apply policies and procedures which are designed to ensure fairness, as well as recognized longevity of relationship, to each of our customers in exactly the same way."

IBM could not be reached for comment late tonight. Officials at ZD Comdex & Forums did not return phone calls seeking further comment.

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