Comdex Preview—What to Expect

This year's IT-focused show will cover topics ranging from wireless technology to enterprise infrastructure to security.

Comdex—the annual trade show soiree that brings the digerati to Las Vegas—takes place next week, and this years event promises to be significantly different from those seen previously. The trade show has suffered tough times recently, with attendance dropping; some major vendors pulling out; and a change of ownership (the show is now run by MediaLive International). This year, according to show organizers, Comdex will move from the less-focused technology festival the show had become and instead focus on IT and business-to-business solutions.

Toward that end, show officials have qualified attendees. "Attendees either met our buying criteria—kind of like qualifying for a controlled circulation publication subscription—or they self-qualified by paying $50," says Eric Faurot, vice president and general manager of Comdex. "We think it will raise the bar of attendees, and we think in previous years many attendees have just gone for some of the fun, free stuff there."

The keynotes at Comdex this year will focus on topics ranging from wireless technology to enterprise infrastructure and from business applications to security. As per tradition, Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates will deliver the opening keynote on Sunday night at 7 pm, at the Aladdin casino in Las Vegas. All other keynote addresses will take place in the Las Vegas Convention Center. The theme of the Gates keynote will be "computing in the real world."

On Monday at 9 am, Scott McNealy, chairman and CEO of Sun Microsystems Inc. is slated to deliver a keynote titled "Scaling Out: Sun Applies Innovation to Volume Technologies." McNealy will discuss the state of the current IT industry which is, in his view, "stymied by expense and complexity." Tom Siebel, chairman and CEO of Seibel Systems will deliver a Tuesday morning keynote titled "CRM for Everyone." Also on Tuesday, at 12:30, John D. Zeglis, chairman and CEO of AT&T Wireless, will give a keynote entitled "Your Phone is Home."

John Thompson, chairman and CEO of Symantec will deliver a keynote titled "Living and Working in a Securely Wired World" on Wednesday morning. Later that day, David Nagel, president and CEO of PalmSource, is expected to speak on "Driving the Mobile Enterprise."

Several conference sessions on emerging technologies are also slated for the show. Among the more topical sessions will be a conference titled "RFID: Is This Technology on Track for Todays Applications Needs?" The US Department of Defense recently announced a new policy on radio ID chips that could lead to wider adoption of the technology

Other conference sessions include a Tuesday panel on Web services, moderated by PC Magazine Editor-in-Chief Michael J. Miller, and an On Demand Power Panel—focusing on enterprise technology solutions—on Wednesday.


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