It’s oh so quiet … Are tech/telecom trade shows done for?
“I remember 1999, there were five-storey booths here and every hall was packed”, Egypt’s communications minister Tarek Kamel complains.
He was speaking at the sidelines of ITU Telecom World, a global conference sponsored by the United Nations’ information and communications agency.
This year the meeting halls are filled with just enough people to not seem empty. But there’s no need to elbow your way through throngs of people eyeballing what’s hot and new in the telecoms world.
ITU 2009 has the feeling of a Sunday afternoon, people are out and about conversing pleasantly with one another but there’s no rush.
Bill Huang, China Mobile research institute chief, says: “Its the quietest ITU show I have ever been to.” Why? He guesses the financial crisis is to blame.
Kamel says the malaise has been going on for longer: “This has nothing to do with the crisis. It started in 2003, the exhibition industry is changing. How? People came here to learn about products, now all this is online. But you still come to see people.”
Hamadoun Toure, ITU’s secretary general, gives a diplomatic statement “We are very pleased with attendance.”
The next ITU show is planned in two years, the 40th anniversary of the first event.
Toure says the 2011 show is needed “as this a rare forum for policy makers and chief executives of the sector to meet”
But he also concedes that “the time for big conferences is over “.
(Photo credit: Reuters/Valentin Flauraud)