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COMDEX Shrinks, Changes Focus

New York – With less than two months remaining until Comdex/Fall 2003 kicks off, it appears this year’s show will be a mere shadow of what it was during the past two years and practically unrecognizable when compared to the giant events hosted during the dot com heyday of the 1990s.

According to the show’s web site, bout 240 exhibitors were registered by mid-September, and this number is expected to only increase a small amount, show spokesperson said. She would not give any estimate on how many attendees are expected or how much floor space in the Las Vegas Convention Center would be utilized. The show is schedule to run Nov. 16-20.

‘We are targeting for a much smaller show,’ a spokesperson said, adding it is being tightly bound to the enterprise and business to business markets.

Key3Media, the show organizer, claimed there were 1,000 exhibitors and 125,000 people at the 2002 event, a figure doubted by many at the show.

Key3Media said this year’s event will not be focused around the show floor, but instead on the seminars and educational programs that will be conducted. This decision can be seen in the paltry number of big name companies that have declined to exhibit this year.

With the exception of Microsoft, whose founder Bill Gates will once again give the show’s opening keynote, there are few big name corporations expected to exhibit on the show floor and even fewer pushing consumer products. Missing from the 2003 show is Hewlett-Packard, Sony, Samsung, Toshiba and others that had exhibited in past years.

Sony did not have a large presence on the show floor in 2002, but heavily participated in other areas such as the DVD+RW Alliance and panel discussions. This year the company has pulled back even more, a company spokesman said, and as of this time is not planning too much if anything centered on Comdex itself.

Samsung is taking a similar approach. It will not longer have a booth, but will focus its energy on an off-site venue where all its product lines will be represented, a spokesman said. This is a trend that has grown over the past few years as companies set out to find a quiet, off the show floor arena for doing business.

At this time last year there was a great deal of doubt that another Comdex would even take place because Key3Media was in dire financial trouble and on the brink of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company has since gained financing and emerged from Chapter 11 in June, but its financial weakness was pounced upon by Jupitermedia last year, which announced and is running a concurrent show called Computer Digital Expo. The strength of the inaugural show is hard to judge at this point. An exhibitor list for this show was promised, but the Jupitermedia has yet to release any information.