Comdex From 2,700 Miles Away

By eweek  |  Posted 2001-11-14

Ive been scoping out Comdex 2,700 miles away from Las Vegas in the comfort and sanity of my Boston office. For the first time in 18 years, fall Comdex was not on my calendar. From 1983 to 2000, Comdex was the last big hurdle I had to jump before easing into the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

This year, my Comdex perambulations were confined to reading the news stories produced by eWEEK and Ziff Davis Media reporters supplemented by visits to

Actually, it was good thing we had the news because the Comdex Web site had some glaring omissions.

In Comdexs description of eight technology zones into which the exhibit floor was divided, the words "server," "PC" and "computer" were never mentioned except for a tangential reference in the name Computer Associates. Maybe Im old-fashioned, but what started this two-decade tech boom in the first place? Arent IT people, the folks Comdex tries to attract, interested in servers and PCs? I think so.

What the Comdex folks say are important, based apparently on who is paying to exhibit, are categories such as Web Works, Information Appliances; OEMs and eMobility. Important stuff, for sure. But our coverage also says Intel and HP talked a lot about new concept PCs, while IBM promoted its new four-processor server dubbed "Crusade." Bill Gates hyped his beloved Tablet PC, while NEC-Mitsubishi discussed a hot new ultrathin PC flat screen.

IT people dont go to Comdex to fondle the numerous digital cameras and other digital video products that have crept into the show over the past five years. The keynote speeches and education program carried a resounding IT theme, seemingly on target with the audience but out of sync with how the exhibits were described on the Comdex Web site.

I dont envy the Key3media people. Theyve had to battle the tech slump, terrorism, fear of flying, decimated marketing budgets and lord knows what else. And this is after they successfully beat the 200,000 attendance mark through 2000 even when pundits started declaring the event finished around 1997.

Then theyve got grouchy editors like me to contend with. If Comdex is ever to tip 200,000 attendees again as it consistently did in the late 90s, it has to get back to IT basics, shoving digital cameras into the background in favor of IT staples such as databases, development tools and CRM apps. Oh, did I mentioned PCs and servers? Or computers even?

Granted, Comdex has its hands full fighting national trauma, but is it missing the mark with respect to IT? Write me at

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