About 600 companies are expected to show their wares at this month's CeBIT Australia show. But while this represents an increase of about 15 per cent on 2004, many of the world's leading vendors have chosen to stay away.
Notable absentees from last year's line-up include HP, Samsung, Juniper and Quantum. Other major vendors such as IBM, Cisco, Intel, AMD, Dell, Oracle, SAP and Symantec will also snub the show organised by Hannover Fairs.
An HP spokesperson said its marketing budget was directed towards a mix of different campaigns.
He said events were assessed on criteria including target audience, timing and value for money and that CeBIT did not meet its objectives for this year.
The biggest addition to the CeBIT vendor ranks this year will be Sony, which returns after a one-year absence. It joins other major consumer and SMB vendors in looking to establish a corporate reputation. These include LG, Panasonic, Netgear and D-Link.
As usual, Microsoft will use the show to exhibit a collection of products developed by its army of independent software vendors rather than directly pushing its own products.
The presentation of local R&D was a key feature of the show, Hannover Fairs Australia managing director, Jackie Taranto, said.
"International people aren't coming here to see companies like Microsoft that they can deal with at home," she said. "We have to showcase Australia's best and some of that local R&D will be picked up by multinational companies." Channel response to CeBIT has been mixed. Alstom general manager, Greg Newham, said the distributor had been at last year's show to push new products in conjunction with Sun Microsystems.
While it had unearthed some good leads, he said the company's attendance had been an unusual step and it wouldn't be back this year.
"I think in some ways trade shows have turned a corner," he said. "The big vendors just weren't at the ones I have been to recently - they just don't bother. It's more about people that need to get some exposure for their products."
ASI Solutions director, Maree Lowe, said the integrator would be at this year's event to push remote management products in conjunction with US software vendor, Landesk. But she said there was an industry trend towards more carefully targeted shows and exhibitions.
"Most people do exhibitions connected to vertical markets they are working in," she said. "That is the way the industry works now but there's still a place for walking around and talking to people."
Taranto disputed this vertical trend, estimating that as many as 6000 of last year's attendees had registered an interest in security products. In comparison, she said a targeted security event would be lucky to attract 2500 visitors. However, next year's CeBIT Australia would introduce greater vertical divisions in line with its German parent.
Taranto said wireless, VoIP and technologies that drove corporate governance would be the leading attractions at CeBIT this year. A total of 480 Australian exhibitors would be joined by 120 from overseas.
Organisers are expecting up to 30,000 people to attend the three-day event at Sydney's Convention and Exhibition Centre when it opens on May 24. More details are available at www.cebit.com.au.