CeBIT – for Germany, or the World?

Either way, it's enormous

More than 700,000 visitors are expected at the 30th CeBIT this year, held a month earlier than usual, to see the 7,800 exhibits in 26 foot-weary halls to make the biggest trade show of any kind in the world. It could have been even bigger -- mercifully, CeBIT Home separated out the consumer side a few years ago, and it is being held in Leipzig this year as Hannover is to host EXPO 2000, Germany's first world exhibition. This has prompted the Messe and the City of Hannover to carry out some long-overdue infrastructure improvements. There has always been a debate in the 30 years of the show as to whether it's a German trade fair or an international one -- and the answer is that it is both, but the German side appears to be winning. In Germany, Internet commerce has been slower than in many European countries because of data protection and security issues, CeBIT press releases suggest. And that's not all -- mainframes are making a comeback as well, we are told. It's part of the German psyche to want to touch equipment and eyeball the senior management of a company before purchases are made, which accounts for the CeBIT phenomenon. Although the number of German exhibitors is up substantially, there are declines in French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Belgian and Irish exhibitors. These numbers must be treated cautiously however, as CeBIT counts exhibitor nationality according to which country sends the money, so that an American company paying through its German office is counted as being German. The UK exhibitor number is marginally up this year, with 317 exhibitors, behind Taiwan (508) and the USA (481). The telecoms sector has actually declined this year (and BT isn't here), no doubt as a result of last year's blockbuster Geneva Show. Banking and office technology are also down. ®

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