Comdex: Fewer Visitors, More Security

By Sumner Lemon, ITworld |  Opinion

Key3Media couldn't provide a specific figure for
the number of companies that had cancelled or scaled back their plans
to attend Comdex, saying the exact number is too difficult to track.

However, both domestic (U.S.) and international exhibitors are scaling
back marketing activities due to the economy and, in some cases,
because some of these companies have gone out of business, Groden said,
estimating that this year's show will attract more than 2,000
exhibitors.

Despite the harsh economic environment and lingering security fears,
many companies are planning on business as usual at Comdex.

All eight of the keynote speakers -- Bill Gates, chairman and chief
software architect at Microsoft Corp.; John Chambers, Cisco Systems
Inc.'s president and chief executive officer (CEO); Kunitake Ando,
president and chief operating officer (COO) at Sony Corp.; Jorma
Ollila, Nokia Corp.'s chairman and CEO; Larry Ellison, chairman and CEO
of Oracle Corp.; Dick Brown, chairman and CEO of Electronic Data
Systems Corp. (EDS); Jeff Hawkins, founder, chairman and chief product
officer of Handspring Inc.; and Don Listwin, president and CEO of
Openwave Systems Inc. -- scheduled for Comdex have re-confirmed their
attendance since the Sept. 11 attacks, according to a Key3Media
statement.

Major exhibitors have also re-confirmed their Comdex plans in the
aftermath of the attacks, including Nortel Networks Corp, CMC Magnetics
Corp., Olympus America Inc. and AT&T Corp., the statement said.

For some exhibitors, increased security fears sparked by Sept. 11 have
helped open new markets. Web conference software maker SpartaCom Inc.
plans to expand its Comdex presence this year, hoping to capitalize on
an expected increase in demand for its products in light of a drop in
corporate air travel after Sept. 11. "Not only are we going to be at
Comdex next month, our presence will be significantly bigger this year
compared to last year," said Scott Moule, chief operating officer for
SpartaCom.

But employees of Tucson, Arizona-based SpartaCom that will be attending
Comdex may not be flying to the Las Vegas event. "Comdex is very close
to us, we can drive there," Moule said. "We are very concerned (about
the possibility of further terrorist attacks after Sept. 11) and like
everyone else, we have to be aware of the situation, but we also have
to maintain a strong presence in the market."

For visitors and exhibitors that do make the trip to Las Vegas this
year, they can expect to see increased security as a result of the
Sept. 11 attacks. Key3Media is taking extra security precautions for
Comdex-related events, working with event venues and local authorities
to make sure that appropriate security measures are taken for the
event, Groden said.

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