There was a time when Comdex was cool. Computers were still an undiscovered country and innovation still occurred in commercial enterprises. Near the end, before the annual Las Vegas convention was put on the vegetable bitch tube, the industry started to run out of disposable income. Paying $3000 to watch industry blowhards at Microsoft, Cisco and Sun talk about their “innovations” started getting old. Paying $3000 to watch essentially unusable gadgets that will debut for one week at $1500 and disappear into the void started to get predictable. Paying $3000 to “network” with people likely to go into a seizure from a lethal combination of porn, aerosol cheese and Coke-in-a-can couldn't eclipse the “cold call if necessary” option. Paying $3000 to be in the midst of a gigantic terrorist target started to become a risk not worth taking. Paying $3000 for useless information you can find on the W internets is something even W wouldn't do.

After being canceled for the second consecutive year, Comdex is dead. Comdex has been replaced by smaller conventions with something resembling a point. The giant “one size fits all” concept has been dead for awhile but the only organization that doesn't seem to get it is Comdex itself. In company propaganda, Comdex strikes the defiant tone of a jilted marketing clone:

Since the postponement of COMDEX 2004 we've been working diligently to determine how COMDEX can best meet the future needs of the industry. Through our continued discourse across the community of IT buyers, vendors and other stakeholders, we've made significant progress. However, considerable work remains to build an industry event to serve the industry as it matures with the same success that COMDEX did in its infancy.

The only “success” of infancy is getting out of infancy. There's not a whole lot going on besides survival among infants. Maybe a “return to infancy” is confused with a “forced entry into senility.” Comdex's vision of a “community of IT buyers, vendors and stakeholders” doesn't fit the definition of community unless your community is a bunch of gang bangers in cheap Izod shirts. The idea that “considerable work” is needed to bring the show back is understating the problem with conventions in general.

Maybe Comdex should invest in vision research. Between yearly trips to the Las Vegas Strip and hourly trips to porn sites, perhaps the core visitors of the Comdex convention haven't really lost interest in the show. Maybe they've gone blind.

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