While exhibitor numbers are up by 16 per cent for this week's annual CeBit Australia show, according to organisers, the absence of many big name vendors must still be a concern.
A total of 700 companies have registered to display their wares at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre. This number is up from just over 600 in 2005 with heavyweights like HP, IBM, Intel, NEC and Maxtor all joining the ranks.
Microsoft will also be there as usual but uses the show to demonstrate solutions developed by leading members of its ISV community. Increasingly, shows like CeBit are becoming a stamping ground for smaller vendors that need to get some exposure for their products.
Major absentees this year include Symantec, Oracle, AMD, Toshiba and even SAP - a German company that cannot see the value in supporting a German event.
In terms of local representation, almost half of the vendors and developers (44 per cent) will be from NSW, with 36 from interstate and 20 per cent international. This includes an 85 per cent rise in companies from South Australia.
Speaking to some of the vendors at Ingram Micro's ExpoTech show in Melbourne last week, a major concern was the confused message sent by an event like CeBit that throws resellers into the same audience as consumers.
As far as exposure to the channel is concerned, vendors see much more value in shows like ExpoTech. According to Ingram, the Melbourne event managed to pull in about 50 more resellers than its Sydney counterpart this year.
Even a couple of representatives from major competitor, Synnex - including marketing manager, Daniel Feldman - managed to get themselves a pass for this year's Melbourne event.
The company is believed to be considering the launch of a similar channel night but is weighing up whether the vendor community would throw its weight behind another show.
In this week's ARN, there are a couple of stories that reaffirm the value of the channel in different ways. Acer won major contracts with police in NSW and Victoria in conjunction with Commander and Fujitsu (see page 1 of ARN May 10 edition); while Trend Micro has seen the error of its ways and reappointed LAN Systems to help grow its enterprise channel (see page 4).
The Acer police wins, probably worth in excess of $12 million if you put them together, are the latest example of the PC vendor working very successfully with its tier one reseller community.
If its national government sales manager, Mike Cefai, is to be believed there will be more significant examples of this in the near future.
Trend Micro's appointment of LAN Systems is a change of heart just 12 months after the vendor decided to service its tier one resellers directly.
Alstom IT (now itX) was the distributor who lost out at the time - and must be disappointed not to get the agency back - but at least the vendor has realised the benefit distribution can offer at the top end of the market.
LAN was picked largely on the back of its relationship with Cisco, a major global partner of Trend Micro, but it also has an excellent reputation for training its resellers.