January 30, 2002

LinuxWorld: No more fluff, less free stuff

Author: JT Smith

- by Tina Gasperson -
If vendors don't have products to sell, they shouldn't
be on the show floor at LWE, says an IDG World expo
official. And, he says, if you're only coming for the
free stuff, you should probably stay home, too.

The mood at LinuxWorld Expo in New York City is much
more business-like than in previous years. There won't
be any big shindigs upstairs with robotic servers, ice
sculptures, and flowing booze. Whether there'll be free
T-shirts remains to be seen. One thing is for sure:
The one-show wonder vendors that were sipping the
mother's milk of venture capital last year are gone.

What's left is a leaner, meaner collection of serious
players in the growing Linux enterprise arena. And
that's not just on the vendor side, says Rob
Scheschareg, IDG World's v.p. of sales, marketing and
product development. "The demographics are changing."
He says that the percentage of attendees coming from
businesses with 1,000 or more employees has jumped from
10 to 12% last year to 33% this year, and that's more
attractive for vendors who really want to sell things
and not just give away schwag.

LinuxWorld is working to bring extra value to conference attendees and to
exhibitors, says Scheschareg. For example, IBM, Compaq, HP and AMD are
sponsoring "Customer Days" with special conferences and face-to-face meetings on
the exhibit floor that feature product demonstrations, tutorials and
first-person testimonials from happy buyers. "It's a more intimate way to market
to specific customers," he says.

The "Taste of Linux" series is new this year and features topics for newbies,
like "Linux 101" and "All About LUGs." The sessions are included in the exhibits
pass and will be held right on the show floor. "Taste of Linux is modeled after
MacWorld's Mac Beginnings sessions," says Scheschareg. MacWorld is the only
other show produced by IDG that emphasizes the community, according to
Scheschareg, although LinuxWorld tops MacWorld when it comes to grassroots

Even with all the concentration on getting down to business,
"LinuxWorld is still a community-based event," he says. "We've had a good
relationship with the Linux community." IDG still sponsors the .org pavilion,
which gives free booth space to non-profits; this year there are 24
.org booths. And now there's "The Rookery," a program IDG is using to help new
Linux businesses by offering a special turnkey exhibitor's package deal.

"We can't control the economy," says Scheschareg. "But we can ask ourselves,
'does the show keep getting better?' And if the answer is yes, then we're really
doing the best that we can."


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