Trade show showdown

In year’s past, we’d spend this week before Macworld Expo checking in on that other tech trade show that takes places in January—the Consumer Electronics Show. (Or, to use its proper name, the Sprawling, Massive Consumer Electronics Show.) The past few years, CES began a few days before Macworld Expo. This allowed technology types with large travel budgets and unhappy home lives to make a Las Vegas-to-San Francisco swing through both shows. One year, our own Jim Dalrymple spent three consecutive weeks on the road, first at CES, then at Expo, and finally at the North American Music Merchants show —it took us until March to revive him.

Anyhow, that’s all ancient history this year, as CES and Macworld Expo take place at the exact same time . At the precise moment Steve Jobs takes the stage for his Macworld Expo keynote at the Moscone Center, Dell CEO Michael Dell will be doing likewise in Las Vegas. (Rumored topic of the Dell keynote: “Dell’s desktops—now more beige than ever!”) And while Jobs is wrapping things up with his “One more thing…” patter in San Francisco, Dell will be yielding the floor to Cisco Systems Chairman and CEO John Chambers for a thrill-a-minute talk about networking.

The excitement never stops at CES, I guess.

(In case you’re hungering for CES-related reports, we’ve got you covered. In addition to picking up coverage from our sister IDG publications, we’ll also have Macworld contributor and MacUser blogger Dan Moren in Vegas for the first couple days of CES to provide a Mac perspective on any news coming out of that show.)

As big as Macworld Expo is ’round these parts, it’s overshadowed in size and scope by CES. (Remember: sprawling, massive.) So I’m sure when people first broke out their calendars and noticed the overlap, there might have been some concern that Expo might have been shoved aside for its larger trade show counterpart. Now, just a few days ahead of Expo’s start, that doesn’t appear to be the case—at least, not anecdotally.

For starters, exhibitors are being assigned to Moscone’s North and South halls. We grizzled Macworld Expo veterans can think back to the lean years just after the Tech Bubble burst when the show was a South Hall-only affair, with wide aisles and multiple curtains to mask the emptiness. With more than 350 exhibitors on hand this year—the number is marching closer to 400, as I type this—those one-hall-only days are a distant memory.

More significant are the developers whose product lines require them to attend both Expo and CES—makers of cameras, printers, and other such peripherals. Rather than choose one show over the other, they’ll have a presence at Expo—big names like Canon, Epson, Fujitsu, Nikon, and Hewlett-Packard are on the exhibitor list for this year’s Expo.

iPod-related paraphernalia has become more prominent at recent CES shows, and this year doesn’t figure to be any different. But that doesn’t appear to be having any appreciable impact on Expo attendance for iPod accessory makers. My colleague Dan Frakes has the task of making sure that iPod-related developers are met with during Expo week, and he tells me that he has 75 to 80 exhibitors on his radar at this point.

So if you harbor any lingering concerns that Expo would wind up on the short end of the stick when it came to competing with CES for attendance, interest, and headlines, relax—Expo’s doing just fine. When the show gets started next week, Moscone Center should be brimming with attendees, exhibitors, and pundits doubtlessly proclaiming Apple’s impending demise.

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