The ARN team is back from Comdex now, though it'll take a couple of days for the old circadian rhythms to readjust. Don't you hate waking at 2am, only to be ready for bed again by the middle of the afternoon? Someone should blow up time zones! I'm sure people who fly first class don't have that to contend with.
We stayed the whole week at Comdex, but unfortunately there's only ever enough time to see a small fraction of the exhibitors. We spent two mornings at the Austrade pavilion, where an excellent selection of Australian companies had booths. Through two or three subsidies and grants, these companies paid around half of the $12,000 or so it would otherwise have cost them for the stands. In addition they got some excellent marketing exposure and a lengthy visit from the deputy PM Tim Fischer.
Unfortunately, that may be the last year of subsidies, as Austrade now believes in full recovery of costs. I talked to some of the nearby country pavilions, such as Canada and Scotland, and they are already recovering the full cost from their national exhibitors.
As I predicted last week, we didn't detect any trends at the show - at least, nothing we hadn't already seen over recent months. The days of product launches being saved up for Comdex week are over, it seems. Competition is too fierce for companies to be able to delay their news for even a few weeks, let alone months. As usual, whenever I found an interesting product on the show floor I was told that "a few nice Australian distributors have all signed up to distribute this product for us". Without wishing to be unkind, I think some small Australian business people are selling themselves as being somewhat more important than they are.
Still a winner
Despite the rapid rise in Internet communications, Comdex won't die. You don't make the annual pilgrimage to see the new products. You go to Comdex to get a feel for what's happening, and to make those few important person-to-person connections. In a week when most of the vendors are in town, it's relatively easy to set up half a dozen or so important appointments.
Speaking of making appointments, one ARN reader who has a product to sell, but is having a hard time getting anyone to listen, tried an interesting ploy recently. HP supremo Lew Platt was in Australia to open the company's assembly facility in Sydney. Our reader heard of this, "ambushed" Platt as he was leaving the launch event, and handed over a letter that he told Platt would make interesting reading on the plane. A week later he received a letter from Platt informing him that he would soon be contacted by HP product managers for more information.
Perhaps persistence does pay.