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TC50 vs. DemoFall 2009: What can you use?

This is the third year in a row in which the two tech conferences have gone nearly head-to-head, helping to launch more than 100 new companies each September. We tell you which of the latest bumper crop you're able to get your hands on.

In the last three years, September has become a busy time for Web start-ups and other new companies looking to make their mark. Warring start-up conferences TechCrunch50 and DemoFall take place within mere days of one another, leaving a wake of more than 100 companies that are launched within just a week's time, all vying for media and consumer attention.

Last year it was even worse, as both conferences happened at the exact same time.

This scramble to get things ready often leaves companies not ready for the users they hope will flock to use their product. So, as a service to you, we've gone through and sorted out which of the products you can use right now. These are sites with open registration, and no special beta or invite requirements.

We've also sorted out which ones are aimed at business users versus consumer use. All of this information can be found in a spreadsheet embedded at the end of this post. But before we get there, let's take a look at the makeup of launches that were open versus closed:

Note: We considered sites that were listed as having "private" or "invite only" betas as closed. This is because there is no guarantee that you could get immediate access once you signed up to use them. For physical products, we counted whether or not you could purchase or download them. All data was gathered Thursday.

This year, there were slightly less products launching at Demo, although that's not including the 14 "alpha pitch" companies, which are neither part of the main program, or by definition supposed to be live at the time of presenting. That said, there was a higher percentage of companies that were live and ready to go in the days following the show than the year prior, which came in at 75 percent compared with last year's 67 percent.

TechCrunch50, on the other hand, stayed around the same as the year before. Last year's show had just 42 percent of the 52 launching companies open for public use, compared with this year's 48 percent.

Worth noting is that there are a few sites that are on the verge of being open but that were not ready to go in time of this article going live:

HealthyWage, a company that launched at TechCrunch50 will be opening up to beta users on Monday.
Spawn Labs, the video game place-shifting service that demoed at TechCrunch50 will be available in November. We played with a demo unit at the show and everything worked great. The company is just working on production ramp-up to get it ready for the holiday season.
Twirl TV, a DemoFall launch is currently open, but will close after the first 10,000 users sign-up. We marked it in this list as open, since we were able to register.
Weels' site said it would launch on Thursday, however it was having problems with Amazon's EC2 service, and was expected to launch later in the evening.

Consumer vs. Business

Also of interest, and something we didn't do when comparing open and closed companies for last year's shows, is the make-up of products that launched at the show. Were they for consumers or businesses?

Not surprisingly, TechCrunch50 had a better showing of consumer-oriented products and services. That's to be expected though. The show is pitched at this audience and as a place for companies to pitch new software and services. Very little hardware is chosen to present--and what is has historically been for consumers. Demo on the other hand had more than a third of the companies aiming their products at businesses, or business users.

How important is being open?

Tech trade shows are never likely to have a 100 percent live at launch factor, nor should they. Many of the companies that made their debut at these shows are coming out of stealth mode and have worked very carefully to keep information about their service secret, both for a competitive advantage and to iron out last-minute kinks. Others have services that just plain aren't ready for big audiences and need a small and eager test group to help see if their creation scales.

What's often more impressive is how quickly some of these companies that aren't live, go on to sort things out and open up. Although last year that wasn't necessarily the case. Just seven months after the conferences many of the companies that were not yet live or open were still shut (including a few that shut themselves down). Will it be the same with this year's crop? Check back here in six months.

Post-launch frenzy: What can you actually use? (from 2008's show)
TC50/Demo revisited: What's alive, what's dead? (seven months later)