The Computer Industry Converges
Arriving in Las Vegas the night before Comdex started, despite missing a flight, we managed to get to our destination only an hour after our original arrival time. Both of us dropped onto our beds and proceeded to sleep the night away, making this the tamest night in Vegas ever. From previous Comdex events we had learned to plan well in advance to move our bodies the five miles to the convention center. Hour long waits for shuttles to and from the convention center were pretty much supposed to be the norm, taxi lines normally weren't much better. This time around, we headed to the shuttle pickup on Monday morning. Arriving to a rather confusing sight, we saw three other people were there with us in line for the Comdex shuttle - maybe ten people boarded a full size bus for the ten minute ride. Upon arrival, security was fairly tight, with guards checking the under sides of the buses for explosives, and bag checks for the media and exhibitors, the only people allowed to bring bags into the show. Expecting the lines for registration to be long, we were greeted to absolutely nothing. We walked right to the front and got our passes in no time at all, after which we proceeded to the press entrance. Seeing as it was the first day of Comdex, the general admission line was actually longest wait we saw at the event. Got to love that press pass, one minute and we were on our way.
Walking onto the main floor, we were greeted to the first and only crowd that had us walking shoulder-to-shoulder. Everyone seemed to have congealed at the entrance to the Microsoft showroom in their attempt to squeeze in. On the way to our first meeting, we hopped onto an escalator and proceeded to the second floor. From our vantage point, we could see that all fifty people that showed up to attend Comdex seemed to have gotten stuck in their attempt to enter Microsoft land. The entrances into the other convention rooms had mere handfuls milling about.
While we do not have exact attendance numbers to this year's event, crowds of yesteryear were definitely not here. Last year's attendance of nearly 150,000 dropped to seemingly under 100,000. From what we've seen, we'd be hard pressed to say there has been any crowd here at all. Hotel rates barely budged from their usual amounts, making tourists a far more common site than a sea of Comdex badges. Interestingly enough, even with the reduced attendance, transportation still seemed rather harried. Many of the shuttles that used to run people back and forth were shut down, the only option being cabs. Even more damning to the attendance turnout of this years conference is the use of a single convention center for the entire show. Even within that show floor, Key3, the group that runs and sells booth space, had a massive booth on the show floor. It seems that the economic downturn has definitely affected Comdex, leaving many wondering if there will even be a show next year.