True Confession: We finally got home from COMDEX on late Wednesday night. The drive home was uneventful, which means at the I-15 between LA and Vegas was lacking the normal bozo drivers and traffic jams. It was nice to be in Vegas on our first "paid vacation" in years, even if it was COMDEX. Dr. Doug had to be back to work as a drugpusher on Thursday morning. However the trip to Las Vegas left me very worn out I couldn't figure out exactly why until today.
COMDEX Fall 2002 will go down as one of the smallest shows in history. Rumors from some LV finest with a badge told us the official number of registered attendees was about 70,000 people. A far cry from the 100,000 they had hoped to attend or the 225,000 attendees of the past years. While the volumes who attended previously were a blessing for the Las Vegas hotels and service industries, I for one, didn't miss the "clueless masses" who attended previous show turning it more into a circus vs. a bazaar. The shear numbers made it impossible to conduct business which was real reason I was at the show. Doug and I had nearly given up going because COMDEX had become a major waste of time, money and effort. I'd have rather saved my money and went to Tahoe for a week of skiiing in January.
Las Vegas Media, and relayed via several Vegas natives that Key3 Media, the owner of COMDEX was likely to file bankruptcy in December or January. Speculators are thinking original owner of the show might buy it back at fire sale/bankruptcy prices and be able to revive it. Knowing Las Vegas-- it wouldn't surprise me.
The show floor lacked the number of businesses and vendors services of the past. The showbook which normally has 1 inch of vendor information was only 1/4" thick. Every company (excluding those in private suites and media only shows) were contained inside the LVCC's and didn't not spill over to the new South Hall. It was a small show.
However small shows can be better. The past year has shown us smaller gatherings from Gnomedex to Digital Video are far more productive and targeted. My only concern is the cost of these smaller shows (over $1000+ to attend,) actually prohibit people from attending-- and the show from growing.
How will COMDEX reinvent itself to become an asset to the Tech Industry? From where I sit-- COMDEX needs to lose the circus and get back to business. While the stock value and related 9-11 problems may have taken care of some of downsizing in short order, the majority of the real show was never shown on the convention floor anyway. (Even Carly mentioned it in her keynote.) The products, services and minds where tomorrow's hot trends and real solutions were being shown or discussed were always off in conference rooms and suites all over town. The real creators and thinkers has always shunned the spotlight.
Why? Because you can't create a solution for a customer on the showfloor where the noise level is akin to sitting next to 747 warming up. Customers need to talk to companies. Companies need to listen and recommend. Trust and accountability has to be established on a human level between the company and the company. This is the only way true solutions can be created for a customer. The hype of the show floor never stood a chance. However until this year, you couldn't have proved that by previous Comdex shows.
If COMDEX is smart and they will attempt to fold the real people COMDEX back into the show in some way. Key3 Media has announced this week they are starting "COMDEX Innovation Forums" which will focus on emerging technologies impacting the IT business in the next five years and will begin in April 2003. Hopefully this will allow the real converation to solution to find a true venue.