June 19, 2003

CeBITes: Report from the first U.S. CeBIT show

- by Lee Schlesinger -
CeBIT America, a new American version of the venerable European trade show,
opened Wednesday at the Javits Center in New York City. With the IT industry
struggling, now seems an odd time to start a major new venture. Both the
attendance and the mix of exhibitors indicate that there's no groundswell of
enthusiasm for a new show now.

At 10 a.m. on the first day of a show, there's usually a human tide
pressing to reach the show floor when the velvet rope goes down. At CeBIT, the
throng was measured in the dozens. On the show floor, booth denizens outnumbered
attendees.

The show floor is a strange mix of enterprise network and PC hardware
vendors, alongside companies selling components, mobile phones, and consulting
services.

CeBIT features several pavilions organized by country -- Austria, Germany,
the Netherlands, Australia, and others. Most of the vendors exhibiting in the
country pavilions are tiny niche vendors looking to expand their presence in the
U.S., often hoping to find distributors.

If one can glean any clues about trends from the show floor, hot areas seem
to be KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) capabilities over IP and Tablet PCs. Several
vendors in both categories were demonstrating products.

Among the random exhibitors one could pick out a couple of gems. The most
interesting products I saw were from EmergeCore Networks and Cyclades Corp.
EmergeCore's IT-100
is a tiny $1,395 box that acts as both a server (file, Web, proxy, and VPN) and
networking device, managed completely over the Web. Cyclades, meanwhile, offers
a suite of management products
for out-of-band hardware management.

CeBIT organizer Hannover Fairs say it's not planning to make a profit this
year, or for the next few. If the company wants to throw money at the U.S.
economy, I won't argue. But Comdex's decline over the last few years should be a
clue that the no one is clamoring for yet another mega-trade show -- especially
one that fails to provide a clear identity for exhibitors or attendees.

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