In a major setback for the Comdex trade megashow, IBM and its daughter company Lotus have confirmed that they will not exhibit at the Comdex/Spring and Comdex/Fall shows next year. IBM will continue to participate in other trade shows, such as Germany?s Cebit - where it plans to expand its presence.
IBM and Lotus were present at last month's Comdex/Fall, but some other major industry players were not. Apple, Oracle, Netscape, Compaq, Sun and Dell did not exhibit at the event this year.
Martin Harvey, communications manager for IBM Global Industries in Paris, said: ?We are trying to become a solutions company, not just a hardware or software vendor. We?ve been looking at all our marketing activities to find the best ways to communicate that. And, frankly, we have decided that Comdex is probably not the best route.?
Harvey stressed that this is not a general decision to cut back on trade shows, and said the company has no plans to withdraw from Cebit. ?Some trade shows are very relevant indeed, and many are fundamental to our business?, Harvey said, ?But Comdex is primarily a product show.?
Suzanne Lonergan, director of corporate communications for ZD Comdex, responded to this criticism: ?I would agree that Comdex/Fall is more product-oriented than our other shows. But Comdex/Spring, for instance, is oriented towards solutions in the Intranet space?.
Lonergan said Comdex/Fall is different from the groups?s other shows, such as Comdex/Spring and Networld+Interop. ?Comdex/Fall is all things to all people, and that?s its attraction. It is the industry meeting place?.
The Comdex show, which is owned by the financially troubled Softbank, was recently merged into Softbank?s Ziff-Davis subsidiary to form ZD Comdex & Forums.
Suzanne Lonergan said this isn?t a case of major companies abandoning the show ?en masse?. ?If a company decides not to rent any floor space for a specific division, it can still choose to participate in Comdex in another way?, Suzanne Lonergan suggested.
She names Compaq as an example. ?Compaq was very much a participant. Eckhard Pfeiffer did a keynote and Compaq was involved in our intranet programme?. Lonergan said the same applies to Dell. Sun and Compaq, on the other hand, have traditionally not exhibited at Comdex/Fall.
Suzanne Lonergan suggested it was not too late for at least some of these companies to change their minds. ?We have ongoing negotiations with all these companies. With 50 weeks to go until the next Comdex/Fall, I think it is far too early to say which companies will be participating in which way.?
At least one Comdex visitor thinks IBM is right about not exhibiting there. Rudi Peeters, who leads the IT Competence Center at Belgium?s Cera Bank, told 'VNU Newswire': ?I don?t go to Comdex to see companies like IBM and Sun. We communicate regularly with these big companies in other ways.? Peeters said he went to Comdex to see, among other things, new Java tools from lesser known vendors.
But he also said he was disappointed by the show. ?It?s much more oriented towards retail than towards corporates. When an IT manager visits a booth, he wants answers, not pom-pom girls?, Peeters said.
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