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The World's Biggest IT Fair Comes to Town

CeBIT, the trade fair that delivers the latest in technological innovation to an increasingly hungry public, opens this week in Hanover. After a number of lean years, exhibitors are gradually returning in numbers.

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The annual CeBIT trade fair flies the flag for technology innovation

It appears that the horrors that plagued the IT industry during the Dot Com collapse in 2000 are gradually being forgotten.

No longer are the technology companies hiding under the duvets when it comes to large displays of hit-tech power such as the CeBIT trade fair, which opens in Hanover this week. In fact, just as there were optimistic words of a recovery last year, CeBIT organizers claim that the 2005 event will see a sharp rise in exhibitors.

There was talk at one point that Hanover may lose the coveted title of the location of the world's largest technology fair. But after the slight gains in exhibitors in 2004, which followed on from the tentative increases in 2003, it appears that the gains at CeBIT Hanover are now an official trend. The organizers, however, are not surprised.

A launch pad for innovation

Stand der Firma Samsung auf der CEBIT 2003 in Hannover

"One can still expect to see the latest innovations in IT at CeBIT," the trade fair's spokesperson Michael Gaide, told Deutsche Welle. "If you take a look at its history, you can see that the first of over 2 billion laptops was shown at CeBIT, the first of over 3.5 billion mobile phones as well. The future can really be seen at CeBIT."

Despite the innovation on show, the IT industry still relies on the consumers to make a product successful. While investment and private consumption of technology in Germany is still suffering from lethargy, the organizers of CeBIT hopes that the general, but slow, upturn in the global economy can help clear the log jam.

"At CeBIT we have a lot of foreign manufacturers," Gaide said. "And with the worldwide economy on the move again, we hope the fair can help with the general turnaround. We have stabilized our foreign exhibitor numbers at around 6,000, which is a slight increase, but with 1,670 exhibitors from Asia there has been clear growth. Asia will be one of the strongest represented regions."

CeBIT a major draw for Asian exhibitors

Galerie Cebit 2004 Sony Roboter QRIO

Kunitake Ando, president of Sony, presents the robot "QRIO" at CeBIT 2004.

When looking at the statistics, this is not hard to believe. CeBIT is not only the biggest IT fair of the world but also the biggest draw for exhibitor from the Asian region anywhere on the technology trade fair calendar. Asian vendors don't head for Beijing or Shanghai, they head for Hanover.

"The three strongest areas this year will be Taiwan with more than 770 exhibitors, China with 310, almost double its previous showing, and South Korea with 200 exhibitors," Gaide said.

CeBIT highlights this year are expected to be devices utilizing VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, which is a method for taking analog audio signals, like the kind heard when talking on the phone, and turning them into digital data that can be transmitted over the Internet.

UMTS hopes pinned on Hanover

Besucher der Messe SYSTEMS 2004 informieren sich auf der Messe Muenchen am Dienstag, 19. Oktober 2004, ueber die UMTS-Technologie.

The fair could also herald the long-awaited breakthrough of the troubled UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) mobile phone technology. After telecommunications companies spent billions on licenses with little in the way of hardware available to roll-out the third-generation broadband technology, CeBIT 2005 could be the fair that breaks the multimedia service to a wider audience.

Other boom areas are expected to be IT security packages, the latest in home entertainment systems and the next generation of e-government and public management solutions.

The CeBIT trade fair runs from March 10-16 at the Hanover Messe.

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