Comdex Canada 2004: It’s not happening

Comdex Canada has been postponed — yet again — to 2005, according to information being passed through the technology show’s attendee registration phone line.

Comdex Canada’s 2003 show scheduled last September was delayed until March 2004, yet there has been no publicity about the event and

references to it have been removed from the Web site by the conference organizers, San Francisco-based MediaLive International Inc.. Spokespeople for MediaLive did not reply to media inquiries at press time.

Some organizations who put together shows for the technology industry believe Comdex Canada has lost its lustre. “”Trade shows are not really where the market is right now,”” said Lee-Anne Black, lead developer of the conference division at the Strategy Institute in Toronto. “”People are looking for smaller events, networking opportunities, (that) they can benchmark with other people as opposed to hearing what vendors have to say.

“”Obviously with the plethora of information that’s out there, you don’t need to go to an event and pay a lot of money to get that information. If you’re going to put on events, people want to hear what their competitors are doing.””

The second postponement of what years ago was the definitive technology gathering suggests continuing problems for MediaLive, which took control of Comdex after former organizers, Key3Media, last year went into receivership and axed both Comdex Canada West in Vancouver and Comdex Quebec in Montreal.

Jim Povec, MediaLive manager of Canadian events, told ITBusiness.ca in 2003 that delaying Comdex Canada until March of this year would allow vendors to to set aside marketing resources for the next fiscal year. He had hoped to attract 120 vendors and 12,000 to 15,000 participants.

Frank Abate, president of Infinity Technologies Inc. in Mississauga, Ont., recalled speaking five years ago to a key Comdex Canada vendor, whose costs were in the $200,000 range “”by the time they budget people, resources, talent, demo product, show product, fly people in from out of the country. In an economy with shrinking margins, how much do you have to sell in order to recoup $200,000?””

These days the price tag for attending Comdex may be lower, but vendors can go to highly targeted government technology or storage events for $5,000 to $10,000 that would require fewer staff and resources, Abate said. He said conferences and trade shows that cost more than $10,000 will get a “”major look”” today from head offices.

Although Comdex is being held this year in such far-flung places as Sweden, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and the U.S., Abate said he sees at least the Canadian version one day “”disappearing off the map.””

Comdex has failed to evolve with the “”geeks”” —— many of who are business managers now —— attending the show years ago to see the latest gadgets and catch up with peers, he explained. “”The technology business is not about technology anymore. It’s been such a slow, subtle shift in the last three, four years, but it is absolutely about business now.””

Abate said that although companies still need technology, most are “”totally agnostic”” about the technologies they purchase and are focused on making profits and meeting management’s objectives. As a result, “”Comdex as a catch-all technology”” event no longer fits many corporate agendas, he said.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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