Sat, Aug 23, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Comdex woos Taiwanese exhibitors

DECLINING PARTICIPATION The largest annual computer trade show in the US has half the number of participants it had in 2001, and now it is actively seeking exhibitors

By Bill Heaney  /  STAFF REPORTER

Comdex Fall may have a hard job convincing Taiwanese companies -- who represent the largest foreign contingent of exhibitors -- to increase their presence at the show this year, company representatives said yesterday.

The organizers of the event, the largest US computer trade show, which takes place annually in November in Las Vegas, Nevada, are revamping the event in the face of declining exhibitor and visitor numbers.

"What we're trying to do with Comdex is reinvent it," Kim Myhre, president of Comdex organizer MediaLive International, said yesterday. "Our general assessment is that it is a really strong brand, but it could use some re-engineering to be a little more compatible with what's going on in the marketplace right now."

For the past five years, Taiwan-ese exhibitors have been the largest national group at Comdex Fall. Last year, 120 local companies exhibited at the show, out of a total of just over 1,000.

But Comdex is now around half the size it was in 2000 when well over 2,000 companies and 200,000 exhibitors took part. In 2001, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks scared many potential visitors and exhibitors away, and numbers did not recover last year.

"The numbers were down last year and they're going to be down this year," Myhre said. "The truth is the market's down."

This year, the event is expected to attract 1,000 exhibitors and around 100,000 visitors, he added.

Seventy Taiwanese companies have already signed up to take part this year and a further 30 are expected to join them before the event kicks off in November, according to Miso Tseng (曾淑芳), sales director at local Comdex representatives ACE Forum Inc (亞廣展覽).

Taiwanese companies have complained that Comdex does not focus enough on trade and that too many visitors are end-users.

"Most Taiwanese companies that go to Comdex want to get orders first and maybe build a brand name second," said Tseng.

The organizers have already lost clients.

"We won't take part in Comdex this year," said Serene Hsu (許鈺青), spokeswoman for chipmaker Silicon Integrated Systems Corp (SiS, 矽統科技). "The impact of Comdex is just not that great."

Last year, SiS hired a hotel suite during the show to meet with important customers rather than hiring a booth on the show floor, but now the company has representatives in daily contact with its major US clients and does not need to be present at Comdex, Hsu said.

BenQ Corp (明基電通) is also shying away from the show floor at Comdex, hiring a hotel suite instead.

"The US business model in BenQ [is] focused on channel and key partner relationships," said Ginny Cheng (鄭怡君), corporate marketing and communications manager. "Having private meetings would be more conducive to maintaining current and potential relationships."

"We are not taking part as Comdex Fall is not a productive event -- it is too local," said Brian Weidemann, spokesman for flat-screen monitor vendor AG Neovo Associated Industries China Inc (偉聯科技).

Taiwanese participants have been turning away from the show as it is too expensive and does not bring in enough orders, he said.

"The organizers need to improve the cost-to-benefit ratio to rebuild trust with Taiwanese companies, and if the Taiwanese are not involved it is not a true IT event," Weidemann said.

The organizers have taken these views into consideration and are pledging to make the event more trade-oriented.

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