CeBIT comes to resemble consumer fair
24 March 2004
HANOVER – CeBIT, the world’s biggest computer and telecoms trade show, winds up this week with the IT and high-tech industry split over the fair’s decision to admit entertainment and consumer gadgets.
The fair admitted exhibitors of entertainment devices for the first time this year, and critics are saying that the Hanover trade fair is losing its IT focus
Indeed there is more and more overlap with the IFA, the consumer electronics fair held every two years in Berlin, 250 kilometres to the east. Germany leads the world in organizing fairs, and IFA counts by most measures as the world’s biggest consumer electronics show.
On Saturday and Sunday, CeBIT was overrun by teenagers and 20- somethings clamouring for cool mobile phones and computer games.
Some corporate executives are concerned that the fair had been taken over by fads and by the passion for branded goods.
Walter Raizner, chief of IBM’s German operations, was icily polite, saying: “We’re not complaining just yet. But we are here to show information technology. We’re not interested in who has the best toys, but who has the best business software solutions.”
The divide is less evident at a company like Microsoft, which was told some years ago that its X-Box gaming consoles could not be shown at Cebit. Today the fair is wide open to consumer electronics products based on digital technology and firms like Sony and Philips.
“We wouldn’t have had much in common a few years ago,” mused Philips executive Gottfried Dutine. Today’s camera-phones and high- definition televisions are at their heart sophisticated small computers.
“The distinction between business electronics and consumer electronics will be impossible to keep up,” said BITKOM spokesman Volker Mueller this week. “A lot of the devices coming along are equally usable in the office, at home or in the car.”
Mueller confirmed there had been a row in BITKOM about whether or not membership should be opened up to consumer electronics (CE) makers. Some BITKOM members resisted, saying the CE industry has its own German body, the GFU, and its own fair, the IFA.
Subject: German news