Like many other IT trade shows, CeBIT in Hanover, Germany, is feeling the crunch of a dramatic downturn in IT spending.
On Monday Deutsche Messe, which organises CeBIT, said it expects 7,074 exhibitors to attend the 2003 show in March.
That's down from the 7,960 companiesthat attended the show in 2002 and 8,093 in 2001, the highest number ever recorded at CeBIT.
Not only is Deutsche Messe confronted with a further drop in exhibitors next year; the trade show organiser is also stuck with a pile of unpaid invoices from firms, mostly smaller companies, that have yet to pay for their booths from this year. "Many of these companies bellied up before paying us," said Deutsche Messe spokesman Eberhard Roloff.
The Comdex Fall trade show held in Las Vegas in November faced a similar downturn in numbers, with the smallest ever turnout of exhibitors and visitors, and persistent rumours that its organiser, Key3Media Group, is likely to go bankrupt.