Sunday, June 27, 2004


Trade Shows

Comdex has been cancelled due to user indifference. No big surpise there, in that C[TI]Os are still tight with the dollar, and aren't going to spring for anything unless:The ROI from a Comdex trip is pretty hard to quantify, since demo software is easily downloaded from the web, sales droids will drop hardware off for you to try if you're even a remotely qualified corporate buyer, and if your company utters the magic three letters RFP, your project can expect obsequious fawning from any potential vendor, eliminating the need to fly to Las Vegas for debauchery.

Comdex was always a hoot to go to, mainly because of the swag (T-shirts, bags, pens, balls, you name it), the booth babes reading their prepared scripts, and the odd big budget booth with a killer attraction. Computer Associates put a boxing ring in with none other than Smokin' Joe Frazier in attendance, inviting attendees to spar with the champ if they wished (and of course the most frequently heard phrase that day was, "I'm not that crazy"). My personal favorite one year was Borland, which had a "You Bet Your Life" stage setup with a wisecracking Groucho who asked attendees the same sort of embarassing questions the genuine article would've.

We always ended up crawling the periphery of the show, as there were occasionally some niche items there of interest, but even back then the commoditization of the small systems business was blatantly obvious, and there were so many Most Wonderful Beautiful Lotus Flower Wong's Of Taiwan desktops and servers that our heads were spinning. PC Expo was no different, just smaller scale, in the incredibly overpriced and inaccessible Javits Center. I actually had to pull booth duty at one horrid little show called IT for Wall Street or something of the sort, where most of the folk wandering by were either looking to sell us stuff or inquire about employment. Four of the most absurd hours in my life.

Every once in a while there's an opportunity to talk to a real vendor propellerhead at one of these things, but overall these shows have become so useless, I don't bother any more, even with a sometimes-useful industry-focused show like SIA's. Too crowded, and six bucks for a hot dog?


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