Aisle be seeing you

Aisle be seeing you

You can tell a man (sorry, person) by the company he keeps. That's the theory, anyway. If that's so, what can you tell about the sorts of trade shows that resellers attend? And even more to the point, what can you tell about resellers not attending any?

When Comdex was created in the US back in the early eighties, it was really meant for resellers only. The name comes from COMputer Dealers EXpo, and the next one coming up in November in Las Vegas will probably attract close to 150,000 people, and most of them really will be from the channel.

If you looked moderately hard you'd probably be able to find thousands of trade shows around the world each year that are appropriate to the different sectors of the IT industry. There are the platform-specific shows, the application-specific shows, and the industry-sector-specific shows.

Some of the shows are meant for you to visit, and some are better suited for you to exhibit at. Some are geographically targeted and might offer a good chance to find new customers, or catch up with old ones. Of course, you can also use these shows to see how someone else is doing things in your niche, or how you might expand into another.

Whatever the reason people have for attending, it doesn't seem to be as compelling as it was. In Australia, at least, shows simply aren't attracting the same level of vendor or reseller interest. That applies equally to the generalist shows as it does to the specific ones.

I'm not sure what the precise reasons are, but it's probably a combination of factors. Computers are more of a commodity than they used to be; many buyers are better educated; information is available from a much wider range of sources, such as the Internet; we've all become blase about the whole thing and there isn't a "spark" anymore.

Even the big overseas shows aren't immune to this malaise. The giant CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in the US is changing dramatically as the home electronics industry matures. I mentioned the upcoming Comdex show to a vendor recently, and he reacted as if I'd spoken a dirty word. I forgot that the European IT vendors like CEBIT and consider Comdex to be a low-brow, beer-and-pretzels affair in comparison. Still, Comdex is one of the best places for Australian resellers to see the sorts of products that are just around the corner. Perhaps we'll see some of you over there in November. See page 14 for details.

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