The general consensus here about Internet World was that the show is "confused".
Perhaps Internet World is no more confused than the typical trade show, which is always an amalgam of companies, attendees and trends. But there weren't too many familiar Web brands showcased on the floor. The usual suspects of desktop application vendors were there, along with industry heavyweights IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Lotus, giving the place an illusion of a mini-Comdex, the bi-annual showcase of computer technology. But you'd have to have a line on the back-room meetings to see some of the smaller players, if they were there at all.
Spring Internet World is not yet the showcase of Internet technology it purports to be. And it needs to attract more big business customers. According to one exhibitor, exit polls say that 60 per cent of the show's attendees are from companies with 100 or fewer employees, and vendors say they would like to see more big customers come to the event.
For those who enjoy bad entertainment, there was a distressing lack of truly bizarre presentations. The weirdest, though, had to be Qwest Communications' professional mind-reader, who, while trying to guess what onlookers were thinking, would interrupt his act to say things like "Qwest's national fibre-optic backbone is the best solution for your bandwidth needs."
Not surprisingly, the most visible conflict the show presented was among the various digital audio companies on the floor. Following its announcement at the House of Blues last Tuesday night, Microsoft was loudly promoting its MS Audio 4.0 software.
The other big players in the digital media game -- IBM, RealNetworks and AT&T -- were all on the floor, but eerily silent on their own digital audio products. IBM admitted that it blew its chance to weigh in by failing to bring demos of its Madison Project to the show. AT&T was only showing its A2B solution in back-room demonstrations off the show floor. RealNetworks had a big booth, but preferred to belittle Microsoft's announcement. "We've got 5000 developers coming to our next conference," said RealNetworks' vice president Jeff Mandelbaum. "Until Microsoft can get that kind of momentum, I'm not going to concern myself with that."
The other important technology on the floor was DSL (Digital Subscriber Line). Companies like Pacific Bell and Covad Communications were promoting the new high-bandwidth applications; both companies plan aggressive rollouts.
But Scott Manning of ACS, a systems integrator, said the show has been disappointing for many reasons. "I'm disappointed in the showing of the big companies," he said. "And there's not a lot of flow to the back areas where the small companies are hiding."