Comdex skips another year

The technology trade show is a no-go in Las Vegas once again; organizers are hoping for a 2006 comeback.

David Becker Staff Writer, CNET News.com
David Becker
covers games and gadgets.
David Becker
3 min read
Organizers of the Comdex trade show, once the high point of the year for the technology industry, confirmed on Tuesday that the event will skip its main Las Vegas incarnation again this year.

MediaLive International, which acquired the rights to Comdex several years ago, canceled the 2004 event after several years of declining attendance, inconsistent marketing and growing competition from programs such as the Consumer Electronics Show. At that time, company executives vowed the show would return revamped and revitalized in 2005.

But MediaLive spokesman Ben Stricker confirmed Tuesday that Comdex will need at least another year to get its act together.

"Comdex will not be returning to Las Vegas in 2005," he said. "We hope to produce another Comdex in 2006."

Stricker said MediaLive received much encouraging feedback from past Comdex attendees as it considered plans for the future, but technology companies weren't so keen on renting booth space.

"We had a lot of feedback...and the attendees were overwhelmingly in support of bringing Comdex back, but unfortunately that wasn't the case with exhibitors," Strickler said. "We didn't want to produce an event that wasn't what the industry needed right now."

Executives at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the main venue for Comdex for several decades, confirmed earlier that most of the facility is already sold out for Comdex's usual mid-November time slot.

Chris Myer, senior director of sales for the Convention Center, said MediaLive reserved space last year for a 2005 Comdex on a tentative basis, which means competing events could still bid for the space.

"Tentative is tentative," he said. "There's no contract--it's just a courtesy hold. When salespeople see that, they know that space is up for grabs."

Myer said other promoters were interested in the mid-November time slot, and MediaLive didn't respond to a January deadline to book its space.

"We called their option for another group several months ago," he said. "They let the deadline lapse, so we assumed they weren't interested."

Stricker said MediaLive was continuing to poll technology industry figures to gauge their interest in Comdex, but he wouldn't hazard a probability on whether a Comdex 2006 would happen.

"Right now, I can't really say where we are," he said. "We're still in dialogue with the IT industry."

Industry veterans were already skeptical last year about the need for or ability of Comdex to make a comeback. "I don't know of any shows that have been able to bring themselves back," Stephen Baker, an analyst for research company The NPD Group, said in November. "I still think there's a need for another broad-based show to take some of the pressure off CES, but I don't know if Comdex is going to be it. I guess the fact nobody I know has really thought about it this year shows nobody really misses it."

Meanwhile, techies who don't think they can survive another year without Comdex should brush up on their Greek. MediaLive plans to put on a version of Comdex in Athens this year to court the growing Eastern European and Middle Eastern IT markets.