COMDEX Courts Resellers

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Print this article Print


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Comdex may be a shadow of its former self. But when it opens in Las Vegas next week, it will be more reseller-friendly than it's been in a long time. Here's what it offers you.

eWEEK Special Report: Comdex gets back to business Would you believe that, even after the disappointing turn-outs of the last few years, it might actually be worth your valuable reselling time to head to Comdex next week?

We know, we know. Comdex is only a ghost of its former self. But we've seen signs that:
1. Comdex is actually showing some signs of life again and
2. That's it a more reseller friendly show than it has been in recent years.

Mind you, it's not that Comdex, now run by MediaLive International, Inc., the reorganized Key3Media, is growing again. It's not. Indeed, the show will be a good deal smaller than it was last year. But, those people who will be there should be more focused on business rather than booth-dollies and loud magicians.

For starters, not just any one who wants to get a free t-shirt can walk through the door. This time around attendees must met a buying criteria—exactly as if they were qualifying for a controlled circulation publication—or pay $100 at the door if they missed the $50 pre-registration price.

What this means for resellers is that the people who are there are there for business, not for fun. Specifically, Comdex's reseller programs seem to be aiming at the small-medium business market. Eric Faurot, vice president and general manager of Comdex, notes, "Nearly half of all Comdex attendees come from SMB, the only part of the IT market that is showing double-digit growth."

But, is there business in Las Vegas for you? That's a good question and you can start by browsing the list of exhibiters by product category or exhibitor name.

Some companies, such as Dell, will be back after long absences. Others, like IBM, won't be on the show floor but will have representatives at the show.

What you will find on the floor are Comdex Innovation Centers. These are sponsored by the ASCII Group, Inc., the self-proclaimed world's largest group of independent value added resellers (VARs) and solution providers. These will provide product demos, as well as opportunities for resellers to meet with vendors and for resellers to meet with IT buyers. The focus here will be on SMB market.

General areas that should be getting a lot of attention this year at Comdex are security, and wireless communications. Microsoft will be beating the drum for broad interest in the vertical market tablet PC. Most resellers, though, may find their push for Office System 2003,--and all the back-office components needed to make it work--more interesting and profitable.

The channel program itself runs Monday through Wednesday, November 17 through 19. Presentations for resellers include sessions from Microsoft on the release of Small Business Server 2003, from Cisco Systems, Inc. on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and general sessions on working with partners and customers by Avaya, Inc., Extreme Networks, Inc., and Nortel Networks Ltd.

Keep in mind that Comdex isn't going to the only tradeshow in town—and no we're not talking about Adultdex, the show for "adult lifestyles," it's no longer around. Instead, and of far more practical importance, Computer Digital Expo (CDXPO) will be held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, November 17-20.

While it has fewer sessions tailored for resellers, CDXPO does have several keynotes by IBM Global Services, HP and Cisco's storage divisions that resellers are likely to find interesting. The show also features, Darl McBride, CEO of SCO, explaining SCO's current position in regards to Unix and Linux.

Taking both shows as a whole, Las Vegas may yet again prove to be the city resellers want to be in this November. Comdex week isn't a circus anymore. And that may just be what resellers need.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor of eWEEK.com's Linux & Open Source Center and Ziff Davis Channel Zone. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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