Comdex - The Last Gasp Of A Dying Giant?
By Judith A. Rogow
Dec 1, 2002 - 2:56:00 PM

LAS VEGAS—Like an animal that has grown larger than its heart can support, Comdex appears to be breathing its last. Between the economic downturn, and the prevailing fear of large crowds in one building, huge trade shows like Comdex may be a  thing of the past. The fact that Key3 Media - parent company of this largest computer trade show - are going bankrupt is, of course, a factor in the less than stellar showings at what many feel will be the final Comdex. Attendance is down to less than half that of former years, under a third of the floor space in the huge Las Vegas Convention center is being used, and many of the largest companies have opted out entirely. There is some talk that, as Comdex has swallowed up many smaller shows, CES may devour Comdex. Since a majority of companies exhibit at both, the possibility has merit. As an indicator of the shrinking attractiveness of this event, the press preview, once a don't miss item in a reporter's schedule, was set up for 600 - yet fewer than 200  attended.  
That said, there are several interesting and innovative products being showcased.
I've been impressed with a couple of security systems for the SOHO market, a few high-end graphics programs, and several PDA programs, many of which I will review in later issues.  The geek "must have" gadget this year is the tiny PDA/Cell Phone/Camera/Recorder being offered by companies such as Sony, Dell, and CMC.  With wireless Internet connection, word processing and financial programs built in, and connectivity virtually anywhere, these units are a mobile office the size of a Palm Pilot.
Linux is gaining ground with the advent of United Linux, a consortium of companies that have banded together to develop a standard-based operating system.  With Hewlett Packard and IBM as partners, it appears Linux is here to stay.
In a lighter vein, the entertainment in many of the exhibitor's booths features clones of Austin Powers, Survivor, or CSI - even nerds go to the movies and watch TV!
Comdex, as it currently exists, may be on its last legs, but trade shows do offer the industry a glimpse of the products of tomorrow that is necessary in this rapidly changing technological world.  They will live on in some form.

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