Archive: August 1998 — Comdex’s credibility crumbles

In 1998, an independent audit of Toronto Comdex attendees drew a mixed repsonse as to whether it was a useful experience for channel professionals.

Only 4.6 per cent of the 656 people surveyed at

the show said they were resellers, and most of them said they were there to look at conusmer toys for their own personal use. But that still adds up to several thousand resellers in one place, which is a valuable networking opportunity, said Jim Estill, president of Guelph, Ont.-based distributor EMJ Data Systems Ltd. “”The show is a reseller magnet,”” he said. “”There aren’t many times when I can meet with a large number of resellers and hear their concerns.””

Others in the market were less convinced. Mary Whittle, vice-president of Ingram Micro Inc., said the show is “”pretty expensive”” and “”simply not a reseller show.”” The distributor didn’t attend Comdex, opting instead to put on its own channel-focused show earlier in the year.

The company behind the Comdex shows, Key3 Media, went bankrupt and was reinvented as Medialive International in 2003. Jim Povec, who was named as Medialive’s manager director for Canada, said recently that he plans to bring more of a channel focus back to Comdex.

Madge Networks encouraged IT users to stick with Token Ring and gain a little Perspective. The company was well aware that the technology was losing marketshare and its rival Ethernet was quickly gathering steam. In response it inveiled a “”Madge Perspective”” strategy accompanied by a series of High Speed Token Ring (HSTR) products.

“”I think the important issue here is that the current base of Token users had the feeling that Token Ring is not a long-term technology,”” said Jeff King, a product line manager at Madge in Wexham Springs, U.K. “”That has actually changed now significantly, and it’s very clear to most Token Ring users that Ethernet doesn’t solve any problems.””

Other networking vendors weren’t so sure. Saskatoon-based Develcon opted not to go with Token Ring for its Athena Access platform.

Ultimately, Ethernet won out, but its dominance may eventually be challenged by other protocols, such as up-and-comer Fibre Channel.

Novell Inc. attempted to spur sales of its Netware software by offering significant price breaks.

The Provo, Utah-based company joined forces with six other independent software vendors to create a program called Catalyst — the program offered users more than US$4,500 in product discounts for a buy-in fee of US$395.

Novell Canada director of channel sales James Simzer said at the time that the initiative would help the company increase exposure with the channel and tap new markets like small business. The company estimated that 80 per cent of its sales went to medium- and large-size enterprises. Analysts and partners lauded the program as a worthy attempt to break beyond the “”plain”” programs of past.

In Dec. 2002, Novell took another crack at a channel revamp when it announced it would move 250 to 400 accounts previously handled internally out to the channel. In April 2003, the company announced it would give its flagging OS Netware a boost by making it available with a Linux kernel for a future edition.


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