Comdex 2004's Cancellation Elicits Nostalgia From Channel Execs


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With Comdex 2004 canceled, some channel executives expressed nostalgia for what once was the IT industry's premier event.

"An era has passed. It's like not having the Super Bowl," said retired IBM channel executive David Boucher.

Executives said Comdex had lost much of its relevance in recent years, so they weren't surprised by the show's cancellation this year.

"It was the hallmark IT event in the IT industry for two decades. All the major industry luminaries converged there for meetings and parties," said Tech Data Chairman and CEO Steve Raymund. "But in the last couple of years, its importance has dwindled. It's essentially been a convenient calendar item for some people to get together outside [the event itself]. I haven't been inside the show for years."

The hassles of cab lines and getting from one meeting place to another around the sprawling Las Vegas venue also contributed to the show's downfall, Raymund said. What's more, Comdex remained too general of an IT show as industry events took on a more vertical focus, a trend that siphoned off many of its attendees to competing shows such as CES, he added.

"People are finding [targeted vertical shows] more relevant," Raymund said.

Still, Boucher reflected on Comdex's past glory. He recalled the time when newly appointed IBM Chairman Lou Gerstner called a channel summit at Comdex and met with about a dozen channel executives for the first time. "I spent two weeks putting together the seating chart," Boucher said. "I think I was at the meeting to be Gerstner's bodyguard."

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