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Enduring technology shows

By Jean-Claude Elias - Oct 15,2015 - Last updated at Oct 15,2015

With the power of the Internet today and all that it allows you to find, explore, discover and learn, do technology shows still mean anything? Are they relevant, or worth the trouble and the expense?

After all these shows are made, essentially, to provide information, and we know how much of it we can get just by browsing the Web, without spending a dinar, without wasting precious time travelling, just by sitting comfortably in a cosy armchair at home.

Without a doubt, the Internet has stolen a huge part of what we would usually physically gather at a technology show. Raw information, descriptions, prices, technical characteristics, experts’ reviews and the like, the Web is just the perfect means to obtain them, certainly the fastest.

Tech shows still retain two aspects that the Internet cannot handle. The first is the physical contact with the exhibitors, the vital, invaluable human communication, and the second is the products demos that you can watch live, that you can “touch”, question and inquire about in an irreplaceable manner. Not to mention that you can buy some of the products at the show without waiting for delivery.

Perhaps these two aspects, even when combined, do not represent the major part of what a tech show brings, but they are still critical. In a way it’s also about quality and not quantity.

At tech shows you can also discuss business deals and sign contracts. Despite widely available online functionalities like videoconferencing, where you can see and hear the other party, engage into interactive, live discussions, wherever in the world you or the other party may be, it will never be exactly the same as being there in the flesh.

Organisers of technology shows have understood the change and, therefore, have transformed the events into gatherings that chiefly target a professional crowd whereas in the past anyone, including children, families, would walk in to have some fun and collect colourful brochures.

On October 18, one of the major shows, Dubai’s Gitex, will open. With topics such as robotics, 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, drones, the Internet of Everything (IoT) and last but not least the Cloud, there is hardly one hot technology subject that won’t be tackled or presented.

Dubai’s Gitex is one of the world’s most prestigious large-scale tech shows, along with Las Vegas’ CES that takes place early January and Hannover’s (Germany) CeBIT that takes place mid-March. None of these shows has been discontinued or has lost an iota of its importance. The shows have just re-adapted to the global context and to the partial competition that the Web constitutes.

The number of visitors at Gitex has only very slightly declined. It was 150,000 in 2012, 140,000 in 2013 and 135,000 in 2014 (sources: gitex.com, Wikipedia and dubaicalendar.ae). It remains impressive by any measure. As for CeBIT in Germany, the number of visitors fell gradually from 490,000 in 2004 to 220,000 this year (source: statista.com).

 

Technology shows are like most analogue, “traditional” events or communication means, including the media of course. New, digital methods have come not to kill them or replace them completely but to transform them and in most cases to complement them.

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