The CeBIT Home Electronics fair, taking place in Hanover, Germany, is the consumer spin-off of the annual March trade fair. The latter attracts industry players in all guises from around the globe, and no serious IT-related business would miss it.
The consumer show was conceived 18 months ago when the industry sensed that this was an area on the point of explosion, with rich rewards for those ready to capitalise. However, reality has hit home of late with events such as the fall of Escom and HP's withdrawal from the home PC market in Germany.
As such, CeBIT Home has been approached more cautiously than may have been anticipated by its organisers. Big players such as Vobis and Compaq are notable by their absence. A number of halls on the vast site remain unused, and there is ample free space within those that are occupied.
On the plus side this makes for greater accessibility to the real areas of interest and better presentation of new technologies and products.
From an exhibitor's point of view this also means a higher profile at what is estimated to be a fifth of the overall investment of CeBIT proper.
As to whether this investment is paying off, responses are pretty mixed.
While a Siemens Nixdorf representative reports "hundreds" of dealer orders in the first two days of the fair, others say there are effectively "no dealers here". "The timing of the show is too early for Christmas orders to be placed," we are told.
As at the March CeBIT, suppliers are not allowed to sell their products to visitors to the show, ostensibly on logistical grounds. This is seen as a major missed opportunity. "Given the amount of available space and the customer interest we could have made significant sales. CeBIT Home does not present the same logistical problems as the March fair ..." No doubt the policy will be reviewed for the next CeBIT Home, scheduled for 1998 ...
Some highlights from the stands:
ACER Stand: 300sq m.
CeBIT motto: None.
Products: Full range of desktop and notebook products with the following highlights : AcerAspire Multimedia PCs with full software package: AcerAspire 3133, P/133, 8/ 1.6GB, X6 CD, 28.8 modem: Desk DM 2899.
Mini Tower DM 2999.
AcerAspire 3166, P/166, 16/2GB, X8 CD, 28.8 modem: Desk DM 3599.
MiniTower DM 3699.
AcerAspire 3200, P/200, 16/2.5GB, X8 CD, 28.8 modem: Desk DM 3899.
MiniTower DM 3999.
AcerEntra entry-level mid-tower PCs without software package, with Win 95: AcerEntra 133, P/133 16/1.2GB X6 CD DM 1999.
AcerEntra 120, P/120 16/1.6GB X8 CD DM 2265.
AcerEntra 100, P/100 ,8/1.2GB, X6 CD, 15" SVGA DM 1999.
AcerEntra 166, P/166, 16/2.0GB, X8 CD, 28.8 modem: DM 1999.
Attractions: Climbing wall with prizes of T-shirts, pens, etc.
HEWLETT-PACKARD Stand: 460sq m.
CeBIT motto: "Farbe Jetzt!" (Colour Now!) Products: Among its full range of consumer printers linked to Vectra PCs, new products are on display as follows: Deskjet 820 CXI DM 750.
Deskjet 870 CXI DM 900.
Deskjet 690 C DM 550.
Deskjet 694 C DM 650.
Attractions: Cut-back VW Multivan people mover to underline theme of mobility; Cosmetic stand making-up visitors in the HP spectrum of colours.
Their comments: "Great for retail, lots of consumer interest - limited journalistic coverage ..."
PELIKAN Stand: 100sq m.
CeBIT motto: None.
Products: Consumables and paper products displaying updated retail packaging as well as merchandising material steering consumers towards products for specific suppliers machines, e.g. Pelikan for HP, Pelikan for Canon etc.
Pelikan has four printers from different suppliers demo-ing their cartridges.
Attractions: "The Colour Game."
Their comments: "Visitors are keen to buy, especially when they see our prices ... how-ever there are only empty boxes here ..."
IBM Stand: 520sq m.
CeBIT motto: "Solutions for a small planet."
"IBM is coming home."
Products: Aptiva 300 series as ann-ounced last week.
Thinkpad products, including new Thinkpad 520.
OS/2 Warp 4 in beta version, which will be available end of October and includes voice-type as standard.
Attractions: OS/2 Warp flight through OS/2 Warp on Virtual Reality shuttle.
Video conference to school in Eastern Germany - forum for children to ask IT questions.
Launch of IBM internet courses. These will be set up in IBM centres in all major German cities.
Their comments: "... having thought long and hard whether or not to have a presence here, we can now see it's a great opportunity for reaching our customers, professionals as well as kids ..."
"I'm not convinced this fair will take place again."
IBM has wholeheartedly embraced the event, to the point of sponsoring half of Hanover's licensed taxis with their motto and colours. This, coupled with the absence of some of their key competitors means IBM comes across as the key PC player here.
SIEMENS NIXDORF Stand: 750sq m.
CeBIT motto: "Spass am Leben" ("Fun in Living").
Products: Full range of Siemens consumer electronics products from telephony to video to Siemens Scenic PC range.
Attractions: BMW Z3 (Silver).
Their comments: "We've seen a lot of retailers and resellers - interest has been high for two days with lots of orders taken!"
TOSHIBA Stand: 700sq m.
CeBIT motto: None.
Products: Toshiba is demonstrating DVD in a mini auditorium within its stand - an impressive performance ...
The other star of the Toshiba show is the tiny Libretto notepad with 8MB RAM and 270MB drive, here from Japan for demonstration only and attracting plenty of interest.
Attractions: Mercedes E200 (Silver), packed with mobile IT and bearing the motto "Office on the road".
Their comments: "Very good for a first year."
APPLE Stand: 270sq m.
CeBIT motto: None.
Products: Apple has around 15 demonstration Performas on its stand linked to the internet in its "internet cafe". New products are the Performa 6400 and 5400 consumer PCs, with Home Office and Creative configurations available. The 5400 comes in black as well as grey.
Attractions: Three flight simulators.
Customer interactive stage with a raffle of tickets to see Mission Impossible where Tom Cruise survives with the help of his Powerbook.
Their comments: "... having monitored attendance over the last two days it's clear that visitors all live within a two-hour perimeter of the show ..."
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