CeBIT Strives to Break the IT Industry Trade Show Curse
NEWS ANALYSIS: The CeBIT trade show, held annually in Hannover, Germany, has changed course and in the process has given itself a new chance for long-term survival.Over the years that I've been covering computer technology, a lot of trade shows have come and gone. The greatest of the bunch eventually collapsed under their own weight and then vanished. The biggest of these, Comdex, was the flagship computer industry trade show of the '80s and early '90s that was held every fall in Las Vegas. PC Expo was nearly as big. Those were the days when the PC reigned supreme. Smartphones and cloud computing were just distant dreams. But now they're gone, existing only as memories, with copies of old exhibitor catalogs and name tags in the back of drawers. The memories themselves are fading as those of us who regularly attended those long-extinct big shows steadily fade away into retirement and beyond. But there's the obvious question: If they were so big and important in those days, why are they gone? The answer to why CeBIT survives and the other big shows are gone is simple on the surface. The other big shows were afraid to change course from what they were originally founded for. They got big by showing what was once very hot technology. Then they kept adding more of the same. But when that technology stopped being hot, they lost their reason for existence and they didn't make a determined effort to change.
The difference is that CeBIT changed. A decade ago, CeBIT was Western Europe's big technology show. It didn't matter much what technology it might be. Video games, washing machines and laptop computers could all be found jumbled together on massive CeBIT show floors. And it paid off, as hundreds of thousands of people eager to see what was new lined up, paid admission and flooded the fairgrounds.