Tomorrow CeBIT 2006 opens its doors with 6,262 exhibitors spread over 310,412 square metres of display space, making it the world's largest trade fair. Today, however, it's the world's largest building site. As far as we can tell, based on the to-ing and fro-ing of trucks, the piles of unopened packing cases and the constant hammering, not one of the 6,262 exhibitors has finished constructing their stand. It's one big mess, frankly... which explains why the German word for fair is 'messe'.
Crave is hunkered down in the CNET Networks bunker, a shedlike building on the roof of Hall 1. In contrast to the sweeping glass and steel of the 27 exhibition halls, it's a wooden building constructed of interlocking hexagonal cells, in which we labour like bees. That said, it's warm, it has hot-and-cold running Internet, and we can walk from one end to the other in under a minute -- which is more than you can say for the fairground itself.
Everyone tells you CeBIT is big, but you can't understand how really, truly, enormously huge it is until you try to walk from one end to other -- and fail, because you've been out for over an hour and you need to be somewhere else. Hall 1 is so big that the bunkers on the roof are arranged in 18 'streets'. We can see Hall 2 somewhere on the horizon, but Hall 27 might as well be in another country.
The other thing that stands out is the architecture. In other places, exhibition halls are just oversized sheds, big metal or concrete barns that are closed off from the world. CeBIT's halls look more like oversized art galleries, with glass fronts and curved or tented roofs. The convention centre consists of interlocking glass circles, and there's even a building shaped like a giant glass cube, balanced on one corner.
Tomorrow we'll be inside the halls, checking out all the hot new gadgets on the freshly painted stands. For now, though, we have to run... we're supposed to be at a press conference in a building far, far away. -ML
See our CeBIT 2006 Special Report for all the latest news, product announcements, photos and videos from CeBIT.