Where we’re at

I was doing some spring cleaning in my office the other day — OK, so I’m a little behind schedule – when I stumbled upon a press release regarding the planned North American premiere of the CeBIT trade fair in June 2003 in NYC.

CeBIT america was announced in March, 2002. At the time, organizers

said it was “”opportunely scheduled to coincide with the ICT (information and communications technology) industry’s anticipated rebound, and just prior to the mid-year peak in business spending on IT and telecommunications products and services.””

I can’t recall if, at the time, I thought those projections were optimistic or conservative. And much has happened in the intervening eight months that argues the recovery may be forestalled beyond next summer.

For their part, CeBIT america organizers seem confident things are proceeding apace. Barbara Rogers of Hannover Fairs USA says they’re anticipating a turnout of about 40,000 visitors to the show, checking out 450 exhibitors. That’s about a third of the traffic of the well-established Comdex Fall show in Vegas — not bad for a North American premiere. The annual CeBIT Hannover show draws about 750,000.

(We should note, at this point, that this week could be Comdex’s last hurrah in Vegas. Organizer Key 3 Media began pondering aloud the prospect of bankruptcy only days before the show began.)

“”Industry analysts are still predicting a rebound in the ICT industry and increased spending by business in this important area,”” an under-the-weather Rogers said in an e-mail interview. “”Obviously, we can’t predict the future, and can only hope the analysts are on mark.””

Not all the analysts are convinced.

In early November, IDC Canada reported slower-than-anticipated PC shipments for the third quarter of the year. Sales were down 7.5 per cent – about 60,000 units – from last year’s Q3. Commercial sales were off 10.5 per cent. While it was a 2.3 per cent increase over the traditionally week second quarter, IDC analyst Eddie Chan had anticipated a 16 per cent jump.

The question, wrote Chan in a report, is whether that jangled confidence is going to continue through 2003.

Edmonton integrator Greg Michetti says the “”recovery”” is illusory. “”The combination of lower-tech supply and better sales and business skills will make it look like a recovery is on,”” he says. “”In reality, it is the shakeout that is ending.””

Recovery or no, CeBIT america is worth looking forward to. It’ll be a small taste of the Mother of All Trade Shows for those who can’t do Hannover because of budget or time constraints. After all, New York is such an economical city . . .

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Dave Webb
Dave Webb
Dave Webb is a technology journalist with more than 15 years' experience. He has edited numerous technology publications including Network World Canada, ComputerWorld Canada, Computing Canada and eBusiness Journal. He now runs content development shop Dweeb Media.

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