CeBit Latest Victim of Show Woes

Organizers of the CeBit America computer industry trade show announced thatthey have canceled the June 2005 event because of declining attendance.

The show is the second major technology event to be called off. In June the Comdex show was canceled for the same reason.

Gartner analyst Martin Reynolds told TechNewsWorld that theCeBit and Comdex cancellations resulted from aconsolidation of vendors, more reliance on Internet communications andthe IT slowdown of the last few years.

“All of these things combined have made these big shows a thing of thepast,” Reynolds said.

Business Decisions

According to Reynolds and other analysts, the show cancellations should be attributed to changes in the technology market, not to an overall decline. Once focused on personal computers, the market now includes many other high-tech consumer goods. In addition, advances in Internet and other teleconferencing technologies have allowed companies to communicate with partners and clients while avoiding the expense of travel.

Hannover Fairs USA, the company that has hosted CeBit in New York for thelast two years, said the cancellation was “a reflection of a changinghigh-tech industry, as well as [of] the overall U.S. economy.”

“Though regrettable, this is the correct business decision,” said Joachim Schafer, the company’s president. “CeBit America is a terrific event,but it has not generated enough revenue to justify a third year.”

The company said the overseas CeBit events –including the original show in Hannover, Germany, that attractsmore than 500,000 attendees each year — will not be affected by thedecision on the U.S. event.

Changing Focus

Gartner’s Reynolds, who said the CeBit America show has been struggling for some time, indicated that the European version is “a vastly broader show.”

He believes that the larger shows are likely to disappear in favor ofsmaller, more specialized events.

IDC analyst Roger Kay claims, however, that there is still a need for a major IT show. He said the recent cancellations will focus more attention on the Consumer Electronics Show, which is held annually in Las Vegas.

The changes could affect another show as well. When CeBit began its spring show, the New York Tech Expo moved to a fall schedule. With CeBit canceled, the TechEx may come back to spring.

“It shifts the focus in favor of TechEx in New York in September,” Kaysaid of the CeBit cancellation. “I think the industry definitely wants aplace to meet” in the spring.

Side Effects and Suites

Kay said peripheral shows and events that depend on Asian and other business travelers will be affected.

He also said that CeBit was hurt by vendors who avoided high booth fees by booking events in their own hotel suites during shows.

“You can’t have [those meetings] unless there’s a show,” Kay said. “It’s hard for people to agree to meet at a certain time and place.”

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