CeBIT 2005: Double Comdex and Keep Walking

The giant tech and telecom show presents a smorgasbord of tasty new gadgets-on a buffet 25 miles long.

HANNOVER, GERMANY—The annual CeBIT show is happening here this month, with the show floor opening at 9 a.m. on Thursday morning. If you miss technology trade shows with huge numbers of attendees and endless miles to walk around, well, theres no Comdex to look forward to this year (short of major surprises), but if you dont mind a quick hop over to Germany, then CeBIT is the place to wear your feet out.

Exhibitor-wise, 6,270 companies and organizations are here, filling 308,881 square meters of net display space. The main exhibitor/show guide is hardcover and is close to the size of an encyclopedia volume. Up to half a million people are expected. (Thats the same as the population of Hannover—its no wonder that a lot of attendees have to stay a ways out of town.)

For comparison, the mother-ship Comdex show in Las Vegas peaked at 2,340 exhibitors, 235,000 attendees and 1.475 million net square feet in 1997, said Bill Sell, managing partner at Advisor Communications and formerly vice president and general manager of Comdex.

One significant difference between CeBIT and Comdex (or, for that matter, between CeBIT and all shows in the United States), Sell pointed out, is that the CeBIT show is the focal point for many companies marketing efforts. "You build your entire campaign and plans around mid-March," Sell said.

3,293 of the exhibitors are from nearly 70 other countries—over 1,570 from the Asia-Pacific region, 209 registered from the United States (technically, there are several times that number, if you count exhibitors like Microsoft Corp., whose European subsidiary was the one that registered for the show.)

The exhibitors fill 27 of the sites buildings, plus numerous smaller pavilion areas; in addition, theres a Future Parc showing "the latest scientific research findings" and a Public Sector Parc showing "e-Government solutions for national and local government as well as public-sector solutions." If you walk each aisle at the show, youll log about 25 miles.

Theres also a dedicated press building. And lots of places to eat. And lots of parking spaces—although the savvy (experienced) attendee will take public transit in to one of the adjacent train stations.

According to CeBIT, last year over 30 percent of the professional attendees came from top management, over half were responsible for procurement decisions—and half the professionals who came last year were ready to spend.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read about SAP founder Henning Kagermanns opening speech at CeBIT 2005.

CeBIT evolved from the Hannover Fairs, which were created after World War II to give West Germany a replacement for the Leipzig shows. These events peaked at 950,000 people.

An estimated half-million attendees are expected at CeBIT over the coming eight days...and, according to Joachim Schafer, president of Hannover Fairs USA Inc., there have been about 100,000 people directly involved in getting the event set up—not counting all the delivery folks or "halo effect" folks in local (and not-so-local) hotels, restaurants, and so on.

/zimages/5/100260.jpgWhats Going to Be There

CeBITs turf is "ICT"—information technology, telecommunications, software and services. This includes everything from motherboards and cooling to digital media and "digital home"; from VOIP and wireless to document management, banking and finance, human resource management, and outsourcing.

The resale market will be served by a new session called Planet Reseller. Like Comdex, CeBIT casts a wide net, offering to serve everyone from SMBs (small and midsized businesses) through SMEs (small and midsized enterprises) and larger enterprises.

/zimages/5/28571.gifTo read about Skypes commitment to free Internet phone calls, click here.

Here are a few of the products expected to be announced or shown, according to the advance show literature:

  • Three new DVD recorders from Hitachi Ltd., with up to 250GB capacity and circuitry that can recognize (and skip) commercials.
  • From Intel Corp., "the worlds smallest PC," designed to fit into a car radio slot, able to function as your cars navigation, communication, entertainment and switching center. Intel will also be presenting its "Sonoma" chip set, their next-generation Centrino for use in notebooks.
  • NEC Corp. is bringing the first HD-DVD drive, with capacities of up to 60GB, and a prototype of "the worlds first PC drive for playing back HD-DVDs, DVDs and CDs." (Watch for it in stores around September of this year, and the matching burner by years end.)
  • Panasonic Corp. will show what it says is the worlds largest mass-produced plasma display (about 65-inches diagonally) and a compact digital camcorder with 30x optical zoom. Sharp Corp. will have an LCD TV of similar size, which Sharp says is the worlds biggest LCD television, along with its BD-HD100, the first Blu-ray disc recorder with hard drive and DVD.
  • In the headset arena, Plantronics Inc.s new CS60-USB is, according to Plantronics, the worlds first wireless USB headset; the DECT technology has a roaming range of up to 300 feet from the users computer, and the rechargeable battery should be good for up to nine hours of talk time. Siemens AG says its got the first VOIP cordless DECT telephone; using Skype software, it supports several of the latest Siemens Gigaset cordless phones, and you can even listen to Internet radio using it.
  • Gupta Technologies new Rapid Application Development tool supports both Linux and Windows, for development of desktop business applications.
  • A wireless mobile hard drive, with battery, from Data Storage Institute.
  • A combo VOIP phone and USB flash drive (64MB-4GB) from Inter-Active Media Pte. Ltd.
  • The People Cant Memorize Computer Industry Acronyms—sorry, the Personal Computer Memory Card International Association—has a new tech standard "designed to be faster and cheaper than its predecessors," intended as a replacement for CardBus, to become the preferred solution for users of add-ins.
  • Burn DVDs at 16x—two hours of video written in six minutes—with Must Tech Co. Ltds new 16x DVD+/-R.
  • Watch (and record) broadcast TV on your notebook, using the TV-DVB USB stick, an external TV tuner from Avermedia Technologies Inc.
Feeling overwhelmed yet? The show hasnt even started.

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