Is CeBIT losing its IT focus?

Some express concern at gadget overload

CeBIT's decision to allow entertainment and consumer gadgets at this year's show hasn't gone down well with some exhibitors. More traditional IT companies fear that the Hanover trade fair is losing its IT focus.

With punters through the turnstiles totalling 510,000, this year's CeBIT has exceeded all attandence expectations. The show, which closed on Wednesday, had an average of 3,400 more visitors per day than last year - the first such rise in three years, as CeBIT stressed.

However, not everyone was happy. On Saturday and Sunday CeBIT was overrun by teenagers and twentysomethings clamouring for cool mobile phones and PC games, DPA reported. Not the type of audience CeBIT had in mind.

Two years ago Microsoft wasn't allowed to demonstrate its XBox gaming console on the show floor as CeBIT wanted to sell itself as a IT business fair. This year, games consoles were everywhere, as well as plasma screens and other domestic products. "We are here to show the best business software solutions, not the best toys," said Walter Reizner, chief of IBM's German operations.

The German Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM), one of CeBIT's closest allies, admitted there had been a row about whether or not membership should be opened up to consumer electronics (CE) makers. Some BITKOM members resisted, saying the CE industry has its own fair - IFA - held every two years in Berlin.

However, a BITKOM spokesman told DPA that "the difference between business and consumer electronics will be impossible to maintain", as IT and entertainment technology continue to merge.