CeBIT trade show reinvents itself
Back in the 1990s, CeBIT was a showcase for the "digital future" but now that the future is here.
CeBIT, the German trade fair devoted to everything computing, will attempt to remake itself March 4-9 with a sober new game plan intended to impress the corporate marketing departments that fund the annual event.
Back in the 1990s, CeBIT was a showcase for the "digital future," but now that the future is here, CeBIT's German organizers have been finding that other more specialized fairs are stealing their glory.
The Consumer Electronics Show held in January in Las Vegas and the IFA show in Berlin in August remain the world's premier expos for everything digital that you can buy in a carton and take home in the car.
For wireless phones, Mobile World in Barcelona every February has evolved into the principal annual event. That leaves CeBIT with a hodge-podge of miscellaneous products.
The new, six-day CeBIT has undergone a complete rescheduling so that it can open on a Tuesday and devote itself to the needs of suited executives for the first four days. On the Saturday and Sunday, the general public comes to ogle the shiny goods.
Formerly CeBIT was a seven-day fair from a Thursday to a Wednesday, with little business done on the middle weekend.
It's almost as if CeBIT is splitting into two fairs, and US-based semiconductor manufacturer Intel will be treating it that way.
On Friday night, carpenters and electricians will swarm on to the sprawling Intel stand, remove the business features and install computers for a glitzy teenage gaming event at the weekend.
For the bulk of CeBIT exhibitors who fly in from round the globe, the first four days will be the part of the fair that matters, as they meet corporate clients and try to sell components, business software and their programming skills.
Drop in bookings
Deutsche Messe, the fair company, insists that a 10-percent drop-off in bookings of stand space to 240,000 square meters this year mainly reflects the weakness of the dollar as well as mergers among key clients who thereafter need only one booth, not two.
All the products on show at the new CeBIT are to be grouped into three new categories. Two of them are fairly arcane: business solutions and public-sector solutions, meaning the software and machines used by business and government.
The third category, Home & Mobile, will provide a somewhat incomplete view of the kind of products that general shoppers want to see, since some big brands will not be represented, among them Nokia, Sharp, Philips, Sony consumer products, Lenovo and Dell.
This year's CeBIT also has some broad themes including "Green IT," the art of environmentally aware computing.
August-Wilhelm Scheer, president of the German computing trade federation, Bitkom, has welcomed the sober makeover, saying, "Utility has to be emphasized over glamour."
Messe will not know until 2009 if it has got its new business plan right: stand-bookings revenue will be the measure of its success.
DPA with Expatica