CeBIT 2007 Preview

Gordon muses over what we can expect to see in Hannover this year.

By the time you read this both Andy and myself will already be scurrying the halls of Hannover in a frantic attempt to make sense of the 6,000+ exhibitors squashed into over 310,000 square metres of space. This is CeBIT 2007 people, Europe’s largest IT event.

Grandiose intros apart however CeBIT, like its US equivalent CES, is actually coming under increasing pressure and this year we walk/push/fight our way into it with the show under something of a cloud. Rumours are rife that major names will be pulling out of next year’s show and that the entire format is floored with companies said to prefer their own dedicated occasions and promotions rather than being crammed into stalls alongside competitors.

That said, there is no doubt CeBIT makes a grand spectacle for the public and press alike so while the future, especially in technology, is a vast sprawling mass of unknown we’ll continue to enjoy it until we’re told otherwise.

Speaking of which the future was how my coverage of last year’s event ended. I mused about the increasing convergence in mobile phones and the public’s ability to operate them, the ongoing war between Blu-ray and HD DVD and the potentially dimming role of optical media in general (just two days ago, the subject of our latest editorial). I also speculated about the take off of HD ready TVs despite the dearth of content actually available for them and I stated that the time gap between that show and this show was unlikely to provide many answers. Unfortunately, I was right.

While Blu-ray may now have a strong sales advantage over HD DVD (largely due to the eventual launch of the PlayStation 3) its victory is by no means in the bag. Likewise the public still seem reticent to splash out on the more complex mobile handsets, preferring anorexic fashion phones and the ratio of standard to high definition TV content remains about 100 channels to one (though sales of the sets themselves are stronger than ever).

So what will CeBIT 2007 provide? Most vitally, I would suggest: second generation products. That means cheaper, better equipped HD players, slimmer ”more fashionable” smartphones and increasingly affordable ‘Full HD’ LCDs and plasmas. There should be more PMPs and less MP3 players, it may also be the year we see the UMPC find its feet.

In essence, with ‘second generation devices’ (and I mean this phrase to surmise the industry, not refer to specific devices from specific manufacturers) the public begins to ”see” the potential of a particular product range, type or format. It is then the early adopters are pushed aside by the masses whose preferences ultimately decide the fate of each industry sector.

So CeBIT 2007 is likely to be about making a choice. Where are the masses likely to turn? We’ll know more in six days. So strap yourselves in… It’s Athletes’ Foot time!

CeBIT 2007

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