February 09, 2010, 2:24 PM — First a disclaimer: I served on the board of governors of the Multimedia Telecommunications Association, which became an adjunct body to the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA). And, I served on technical program committees to SUPERCOMM, more than a decade ago.
The TIA announced yesterday that SUPERCOMM had been "shelved" due to financial considerations. This was once the largest telecom show in the United States, and arguably, the world. Toast.
In its wake, shows like Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and CTIA Wireless have grown like mushrooms. Emphasis is now on mobility rather than the landline infrastructure that once connected the world with phones.
SUPERCOMM had identity problems resulting from the on-again/off-again relationship of its sponsors, the Telecommunications Industry Association and the USTelecom Association. There had been a rift with other partners, creating GlobalCOMM, then a re-branding back to SUPERCOMM. Held for many years in Chicago, the event had also been held in Atlanta and even New Orleans, attracting an international who's who of manufacturers, contractors, government, engineering talent, and carrier attendees. Sponsor organizations started to die. The major-client user organization, the International Communications Association tanked after 75+ years. I served on its technical program committee.
And like COMDEX (which didn't die of anything but top-level spending sprees that left it penniless soon after 9/11), SUPERCOMM was a mainstay legacy of its main discipline. VON is gone. ComNet is history.
I'm headed to CeBIT at the end of the month. It survives. So does (on a much smaller scale) InterOp. But multivendor conferences and trade shows are waning. Some say it's the Internet, others the effects on travel budgets in a crappy economy. My take: vendors want their own shows so that they can control the message, rather than react to it as happens with MacWorld, Oracle OpenWorld, VMWorld, and so on. Propaganda is still king if you can afford it.