Monday, June 28, 2004

Bias - No. Focus? Yes.

No COMDEX this year. Wow. In over 12 years of tech PR, I'd never have imagined such an implausible (non) event.

I railed against bias, below, but the strangulation of COMDEX speaks to necessity of focus.

COMDEX organizers can't blame the economy anymore. The economy is getting better (knock on wood). This was a failure of focus. In the Good Ol' Days, as technology was roaring its dominance, COMDEX was a convenient catch-all venue for everything from consumer electronics to Internet infrastructure to middleware. Everybody went, so everybody exhibited. Or was it the other way around?

The economic downturn made everyone re-evaluate IT roles and needs. Budgets for tech, for travel, for research, etc. needed to be prioritized and defended. As a result, focused events were easier to make a case for, whether you were a prospective attendee or exhibitor.

The Consumer Electronics Show is a beneficiary of this trend - it's all about gadgets. LinuxWorld caters to the Open Source penguin lovers. Ad:Tech is a blow-out event for marketing technologists. And perhaps the best example is the RSA Conference, which by all accounts grows more ostentatious each year.

Focused shows like these are thriving. They can do a better job of catering to the specific interests, quirks and personalities of their audience.

It's akin to the ever-popular debate in enterprise technology between BEST-OF-BREED applications vs. ALL-IN-ONE SUITES. The pendulum swings back and forth on this issue. For my money, in an increasingly fractious world, the BEST OF BREED argument will win out, and COMDEX will never be the same again. "Like attracts like," in the tradeshow world. Geeks of a feather schmooze together.

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