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Ramp up for CeBIT 2013 begins

By the end of the first week in March, hundreds of thousands of souls will have passed through the gates to the Hannover Messe – one of the world’s largest trade fair grounds. But to the experienced eye, it will look like a ghost town. KitGuru tallies the numbers to see why.

Although it kicked off in 1970, by the end of the 80s, a small computer trade fair in Hannover had blossomed into something truly amazing.

In no time at all, it became the largest fair of its kind – spanning more than 30 huge halls – and even covering the roof of the massive hall 1.

As graphics moved out of the CPU and onto specialist GPUs, users began to understand how their systems worked – and the fact that customisation was everything. Which created new markets – and exhibitors.

Back in 92, people would stay in Hamburg and commute 150km to Hannover each day. Every hall was full of 'the next big idea'. These days, experts like Corsair's Gareth Ogden can take time to explain their new designs without fear of being lost in a sea of people.

But why stop on the inside?

If your system performs differently, then it should look different – and so the case, keyboard and mouse industries exploded.

All of the new components needed power – which required cooling – and it came to a head when one bright spark drew a line on a processor with a pencil and made overclocking easy. From there, things became much more complicated in no time at all.

But, over time, the industry evolved. As with most businesses, the most natural model is oligopoly – where a few powerful companies sell almost everything to everyone.

For competitors in the phone market, the idea of going head-to-head with Apple or Samsung is a scary prospect – while the car market supports a much greater range of diversity. Computers sit somewhere in the middle

March 2004 was the turning point. The last time that CeBIT flexed its huge muscles and the world took note. Companies were block-booking hotels 10 years in advance, every single plane/train/automobile was jam-packed and the CeBIT Messe sales team could take huge amounts of money.

In 2005, the first dents appeared in CeBIT’s armour. A couple of the major players were not sure they needed such a big presence and some last minute juggling meant that a company as small as ATi (then taking just over $1Bn in annual revenue) was able to book virtually an entire hall.

By 2006, the CeBIT sales teams were under pressure and deals were done. Specifically, those companies willing to book up to 3 years in advance would get the best discounts.

As the show shrunk in the years that followed, companies were committed to huge stands, major staffing costs and all the transport/accommodation that goes with it.

When the extended ‘discount deals’ ran out, CeBIT shrunk overnight. At least as a computer show. But the board of directors at CeBIT are a clever bunch and, by then, they were firmly on their way to integrating mobile communications, banking, software and services.

So while it is a shadow or its former self (and not big enough to demand the opening of the gigantic Hall 1), CeBIT still has a place in the market. Companies know that they can organise meetings in/around the event – and the drop in popularity means that you can fly over and back for a couple of days with almost zero impact on your annual travel budget.

These days, Asus, AMD and many other companies maintain big offices in Germany – but struggle to see the logic behind a big spend on a show like CeBIT, which must be sad for the organisers.

Still, every company will probably attend, they just might not hire space and decorate it for the punters. Instead, they’ll wine and dine potential customers – looking to close those all important deals.

The PRO show aims at strategies and jobs. GOV aims at public sector. LAB has one eye on the future, while LIFE looks at convergence and application - how technology will be used in the home and everyday life. Nice. But where's the Radeon 8000/GeForce 700 ?

KitGuru says: Let’s be honest, small or not, we’re looking forward to this show – simply because it’s exciting to see so much cool stuff in one place at one time. Overall, Computex is better and IFA are bigger/better – and Distree has a fantastic focus – but there’s still a place in our hearts (and calendars) for CeBIT.

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