Memo to the computer industry: PC 96 is not - repeat not - a sinking ship, according to Gabrielle Stephens, exhibition director for Australian Exhibition Services, the firm that stages the show. Although industry giants such as Novell, Lotus and Compaq have pulled out of the show, Stephens maintains PC 96 (March 5-8 in Sydney) is as vital as ever.
"The PC show has been around for 13 years and it has always reflected the trends within the industry," Stephens said. "Exhibitors come and go. That's the nature of the industry - it's cyclical. If certain organisations have decided not to participate, that's up to them. I'm not going to hold a gun to anybody's head."
Does Stephens accept the premise that Novell, Compaq and others are opting out of PC 96 in favour of more focused shows? "Not really. Companies make marketing decisions based on their own internal strategies, and those change from year to year. I'm not worried about individual exhibitors who may leave, because most of them will be back," she said. "If an advertiser decides to pull a couple of ads out of a magazine, you don't necessarily say 'That publisher's going out of business.' " Touché.
Stephens said some of the big-name firms that have pulled out of the show have been offset by newcomers, and points to Siemens Nixdorf, Dell and the recently resuscitated Osborne Gateway as evidence of new blood in the show. "We're expecting more than 50,000 attendees and 300 exhibitors," she said. "And the Internet is hotterÊthanÊever. We've got a tremendous level of participation from on-line service providers and affiliated third-party firms."
What does PC 96 offer resellers? "They're a lot of new exhibitors from overseas - the UK, Germany, Taiwan and India, for example - that are looking for companies to distribute their products in Australia. This is a great opportunity for resellers to strike up distribution deals."