Compaq, Dell feeling un-conventional

The economic slowdown pinches travel budgets, prompting the two tech giants to bump their upcoming conventions to next year.

Michael Kanellos
Michael Kanellos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.
Deep in the heart of Texas, there won't be many computer conventions this year.

Compaq Computer and Dell Computer have decided to cut costs by postponing customer gatherings originally slated for later this year.

Compaq's Innovate Forum, originally slated for the end of May, will now take place next year. Similarly, Dell has pushed its DirectConnect convention from late August to 2002.

The gatherings are victims of the high-tech slowdown. Potential attendees are facing reduced travel budgets, said a Dell representative, and Dell also needs to cut costs. Last year, approximately 1,200 people attended DirectConnect.

Both conventions exist to allow the companies to mingle with their large customers and flesh out strategies for the coming year. News that comes from these conventions is decidedly upbeat. Two years ago, Eckhard Pfeiffer acted the part of the gracious host as Compaq's CEO at Innovate.

The day after the convention ended, Compaq announced Pfeiffer was going to be replaced as CEO. On the same day, then CFO John Mason left the company. The shakeup sent Compaq into a tailspin that it still is recovering from.

In 1999, Dell used its convention to give the world a sneak peak of its WebPC, a stylish PC that only lasted on the market for six months.

Compaq holds its convention every two years. Dell originally slated DirectConnect to be a biennial event but went to an annual schedule last year.