IDG News Service - PARIS -- It's hard to grasp the scale of the annual CeBit IT exhibition in Hanover, Germany: there are more than 30 halls, many of them seemingly big enough to swallow soccer fields, and to visit them all would certainly take the entire week for which the show lasts.
Last year, CeBit's organizers sold around 312,000 square meters of floor space to 6,411 exhibitors, and attracted 510,000 visitors, around a quarter of them from outside Germany. This year, the organizers expect 6,115 exhibitors, and bookings for floor space are down about 2% at 306,000 square meters -- but that still leaves the show more than twice the size to which the best-known U.S. IT event, Comdex, grew in its heyday. (Comdex started shrinking somewhere around 2001, and last year's event was canceled.)
There's no sign of terminal decline at CeBit, however, and last year the show was buzzing. Hot topics included the introduction of 3G (third-generation) mobile networks in Germany, growing numbers of Wi-Fi hotspots, VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) telephony, 64-bit PCs, high-resolution digital photography and giant flat-screen displays.
This year, you could say that an underlying theme is new ways to look at old data.
Beyond Germany, other European countries have rolled out 3G networks based on the UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) standard, and manufacturers will be exhibiting smaller phones to exploit them, making multimedia services viewable in new ways from new places. Some of Europe's biggest Wi-Fi network operators have signed a bunch of roaming deals, too, opening up the hot spots on the showground to hundreds of thousands more visitors carrying PDAs and laptops.
Microsoft Corp. will show how workers can look at data together, using its Office Live Collaboration Platform. The beta version of its universal instant messaging client, code-named Istanbul, will make its first public outing at the show, and its Office Live Meeting and Office Live Communications Server 2005 products will also be on show. On other stands, Microsoft will display consumer products in three theme areas: digital living, on the road and sports.
Abas Software AG will showcase support for 64-bit computer platforms and Web services in the latest version of its ERP software for medium-size businesses. Businesses will be able to view their data on IBM.'s Power 5 or OpenPower architectures and systems based on Intel Corp.'s Itanium or Xeon Nocona chips. Business can access the data through Web services, which allow editing of ERP data over the Web, and the creation and integration of online shops, supplier intranets and Web-based customer information systems.
Novell Inc. will
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