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Comdex canceled due to lack of interest

Jun 23, 20043 mins

The Fall 2004 Comdex trade show has been canceled, but the show’s organizer promises it will return next year. 

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MediaLive International said Wednesday it is canceling this year’s Comdex trade show because of a lack of support from the industry’s biggest IT vendors.

“While we could still run a profitable Comdex this year, it does not benefit the industry to do so without broader support of the leading technology companies,” Robert Priest-Heck, MediaLive’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

MediaLive said the show is “postponed” rather than canceled, while an advisory board looks at how to redesign Comdex to make it more appealing. But it also said in its statement that the next Comdex will take place in November 2005, suggesting that this year’s event won’t happen at all.

Other Comdex events around the world, which include shows in Korea, Scandinavia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Greece, will go ahead as planned, the company said.

Attendance at Comdex had been in decline since the Internet bubble burst, from about 200,000 in 2000 to 125,000 in 2003. Many attendees said the show had grown too big and unfocused.

Other shows, notably the Consumer Electronics Show, also based in Las Vegas, have been eclipsing Comdex. But one key change, the rise of the Internet, may be more to blame, says Sam Whitmore, editor of Sam Whitmore’s Media Survey, which analyzes the tech media business.

Spending by vendors on lead generation, one of any trade show’s reasons for being, has surged in the past few years, Whitmore says. But much of that spending is going into e-mail campaigns, newsletters, whitepapers in downloadable PDF files, and a plethora of Web-based applications.

“The original concept behind a trade show is that big vendors would come in and have closed-door meetings to line up distribution deals and volume sales,” Whitmore says. “But buying over the Internet changed all that. Sites like mean that product literature, documentation, and plans are now readily available online. Why does anyone positively absolutely have to trek to Vegas to learn about product details? You don’t.”

Each winter, CES draws the kinds of crowds and blue-chip vendor list that Comdex commanded at its peak. Why is that show succeeding while Comdex and other similar shows are faltering? Whitmore says it’s a combination of broad appeal, money, and politics. All of which spark that hard-to-quantify but palpable quality: excitement.

“CES appeals to a larger swath of industry and government,” he says. The array of gadgets and goods appeal to consumers. But so do a galaxy of content providers and software makers. The intersection, even collision, between Internet technologies and “old media” such as music and moviemakers sparks a thrill long absent from Comdex.

“CES has inherited the mantle of ‘The Place You Have to Be,'” says Whitmore.

Senior Editor

I cover wireless networking and mobile computing, especially for the enterprise; topics include (and these are specific to wireless/mobile): security, network management, mobile device management, smartphones and tablets, mobile operating systems (iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry OS and BlackBerry 10), BYOD (bring your own device), Wi-Fi and wireless LANs (WLANs), mobile carrier services for enterprise/business customers, mobile applications including software development and HTML 5, mobile browsers, etc; primary beat companies are Apple, Microsoft for Windows Phone and tablet/mobile Windows 8, and RIM. Preferred contact mode: email.

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