Despite its reputation as the biggest channel gathering, Comdex endured a rocky relaunch into the Australian conference circuit as part of the N+I exhibition and conference last week with organisers, and some presenters and exhibitors, conceding the conference itself was "disappointing".
However, one of the event's organisers was quick to defend the exhibition itself as a success.
Rob Irving, director of marketing for N+I and Comdex organiser Ziff Davis Events, conceded "the Comdex conference was disappointing, I have no problem with that".
Irving argued that Ziff Davis outsourced the conference program and promotion to the Internet Institute, and attributed poor conference attendance to poor marketing - "people can only observe so much".
"We had enough to concentrate on . . .We didn't design the program, we were busy marketing N+I and Comdex as a [trade] show," he said.
One of the disappointed presenters was telecommunications analyst Paul Budde, who saw just three delegates attend his "IP-based networks key to services" session.
"Of course I was disappointed . . . I think there were only 20-25 people at the whole conference that morning," he said.
Budde said he would definitely have doubts about presenting at future Comdex events and suggested N+I and Comdex would be better combined with the Australian Telecommunications User Group conference.
Combined with networking conference Networld + Interop, Comdex creates a single trade show and two separate educational conferences.
One exhibitor who was impressed with the exhibition was Citrix, with one executive reporting that a major bank approached him at the company stand wanting to do business.
And Irving said the keynote speeches broadcast from Comdex 99 in Las Vegas via satellite drew local crowds of up to 600 people. He said exhibitor numbers had risen from 130 last year at N+I to a combined 152 this year.
By the close of the exhibition and conference there were around 1500 individual visitations, Irving claimed.