Comdex Postponed, Looking for Answers

Officials at MediaLive International, Inc., the company in charge of the
once-mighty Comdex trade show, announced it planned to postpone
this year’s Las Vegas event and focus on rebuilding it in time for next
year.

With the economic downturn of the past several years, attendance at the
seminal tech trade show had withered. That, coupled with falling exhibitor
attendance from companies that decided to hold their own specialized shows,
took much of the flair out of the show’s popularity.

Originally scheduled for October, Comdex’s hard times began in recent years.
Key3Media Group, Inc., filed
for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and had to restructure $372 million in debt in
2003. The company emerged from bankruptcy courts as MediaLive.

When MediaLive came out of bankruptcy, it announced plans to rebuild the
convention as a business-to-business show, paring down the show’s attempts
to be all tech to all people. In 2003, 40,000 attendees showed up and many
of the exhibitors were smaller companies, a far cry from the 200,000 that
have attended past conventions. But, according to the company’s president
and CEO, Robert Priest-Heck, exhibitor interest was tepid in 2004, prompting
the cancellation.

“While we could still run a profitable Comdex this year, it does not benefit
the industry to do so without broader support of the leading technology
companies,” Robert Priest-Heck, MediaLive president and CEO said in a
statement.

To mollify exhibitors, MediaLive launched an advisory board in April to
further focus the scope of the event going and getting suggestions. Made up
primarily of publishing companies, consultants and analysts, it has since
morphed into a board comprised of IT vendors — the ones who pay for the
pricey exhibitor booths at Comdex.

According to officials, companies like
Microsoft , AMD , Oracle , Dell , Intel and Cisco
will help chart Comdex’s future.

Officials at MediaLive could not be reached at press time to answer whether
the company will court customer input. Also not available were officials from
Dell and Cisco to comment on their goals for a revamped Comdex.

While the U.S. event has been cancelled, officials say the five
international Comdex shows — Brazil, Korea, Scandinavia, Saudi Arabia and
Greece — will run as advertised.

Comdex 2005 is planned for Nov. 13-17 in Las Vegas’ Convention Center.

Editor’s note: The publisher of this site, Jupitermedia Corp., competes with MediaLive International in the IT trade show space.

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