Comdex Postponed, Looking for Answers

The owner's advisory board will meet this year to discuss ways to retool its once-profitable trade show.


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Officials at MediaLive International, Inc., the company in charge of the once-mighty Comdex trade show, announced it planned to postpone this year's Las Vegas event and focus on rebuilding it in time for next year.

With the economic downturn of the past several years, attendance at the seminal tech trade show had withered. That, coupled with falling exhibitor attendance from companies that decided to hold their own specialized shows, took much of the flair out of the show's popularity.

Originally scheduled for October, Comdex's hard times began in recent years. Key3Media Group, Inc., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and had to restructure $372 million in debt in 2003. The company emerged from bankruptcy courts as MediaLive.

When MediaLive came out of bankruptcy, it announced plans to rebuild the convention as a business-to-business show, paring down the show's attempts to be all tech to all people. In 2003, 40,000 attendees showed up and many of the exhibitors were smaller companies, a far cry from the 200,000 that have attended past conventions. But, according to the company's president and CEO, Robert Priest-Heck, exhibitor interest was tepid in 2004, prompting the cancellation.

''While we could still run a profitable Comdex this year, it does not benefit the industry to do so without broader support of the leading technology companies,'' Robert Priest-Heck, MediaLive president and CEO said in a statement.

To mollify exhibitors, MediaLive launched an advisory board in April to further focus the scope of the event going and getting suggestions. Made up primarily of publishing companies, consultants and analysts, it has since morphed into a board comprised of IT vendors -- the ones who pay for the pricey exhibitor booths at Comdex.

According to officials, companies like Microsoft, AMD, Oracle , Dell, Intel and Cisco will help chart Comdex's future.

Officials at MediaLive could not be reached at press time to answer whether the company will court customer input. Also not available were officials from Dell and Cisco to comment on their goals for a revamped Comdex.

While the U.S. event has been cancelled, officials say the five international Comdex shows -- Brazil, Korea, Scandinavia, Saudi Arabia and Greece -- will run as advertised.

Comdex 2005 is planned for Nov. 13-17 in Las Vegas' Convention Center.

Editor's note: The publisher of this site, Jupitermedia Corp., competes with MediaLive International in the IT trade show space.

This article was first published on InternetNews.com.

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