For Tech Trade Show, Tough Times Call for Drastic Measures

NEW YORK — PC Expo, now known as the TechXNY show, kicks off with a
week-long series of conferences beginning Monday and the exhibition floor
opening to the public Tuesday morning. But after nearly two decades, this
hallmark IT trade show is being held amid the harshest conditions in its
history.

TechXNY/PC Expo is coming at a time when PC sales for the first time are
forecast to decline year-over-year. The next generation of Microsoft Corp.’s
industry-leading operating system (OS), Windows XP, — albeit highly
touted — isn’t
nearly ready for shipment. And consumers generally have no motivating reason
that would spur them to run out and buy a PC, especially given the horrific
economic climate which has already been well-publicized.

As one long-time observer noted, show host CMP Media’s move to rebranding
its hallmark show
speaks volumes about the renewed focus.

“The focus of the show is focusing away from the PC to general
devices…alternative access devices,” said Roger Kay, director of Client
Computing at International Data Corp. “There will be a lot
of little companies showing the infrastructure pieces that need to be put in
place. The big companies really aren’t there.”

In fact, what was the last “killer app” driving PC usage? Napster?
Broadband is still a myth to many. Worse yet, no standards have been agreed
upon yet for
digital delivery of multimedia files. Nor for the wireless transmission
of data — another hot button for today’s IT professional. But perhaps the
greatest irony is that, in the end, these uneasy times in the IT sector may
very well turn out to be the perfect backdrop for a trade show of this
caliber.

“I think it’s going to be a reality check for what people have been
reading about lately…wireless, handhelds, synchronization across the
enterprise,” said Eric
Grevstad, managing editor of Hardware Central
and the former editor-in-chief of Home Office Computing.

Intel will show off its next-generation mobile processor, the Pentium III
processor-M, based on 0.13 micron process technology. Aimed at the notebook
segment, the market leader is clearly responding to the likes of AMD and
Transmeta. But the success of mobile computing clearly still depends on
wireless networking and, to that extent, many issues will remain unresolved.

Surely, Carl Yankowski, CEO of Palm Inc., will shed light on that
subject during his keynote speech on Tuesday, June 26, as will Intel’s own
Executive Vice President Mike Splinter who is scheduled to speak on
Wednesday, June 27.

Show attendees will be attuned to exhibitors of IEEE 802.11,
Bluetooth and HomeRF technologies or even to wireless connectivity via
cellular. Novatel Wireless will introduce two new wireless data modems: the
Minstrel m500 for the Palm m500 and m505; and Merlin G100 for Windows and
Pocket PC OS. Attendees will see a slew of mobile services from ZFrame
browsers to whole software platforms from Everypath and Analysts
International.

For the consumers, Keyspan, which is a leading provider of USB gear, will
announce a new credit card-sized USB mini-hub on Monday. Scanners that are
the size and shape of an ordinary ink pen yet still incorporate Optical
Character Recognition (OCR) technology will be exhibited by C-Pen. In fact,
an entire pavilion is dedicated to the various technology (broadband, iTV,
etc.) converging in your living room. Hewlett-Packard is adding fuel to that
fire with its Digital Entertainment Center, also to be on display.

To be sure, because this is no longer a show for just PCs but all of
technology, attendees will also encounter enterprise-level developments such
as Intel’s Itanium chips (which are designed for servers) or Storage Area
Networks (as opposed to, say, Network-Attached Storage). Linux supporters
will
be touting their wares while IBM will be there with its middleware (Tivoli
and WebSphere) on display.

Now if everyone can just stop referring to it as “PC” Expo.

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