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Monday, 09 March 2009 16:37

CeBIT 2009 numbers drop 100,000 as horror recession bites

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Not even the personal appearance of the terminator Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, leading a huge delegation of Californian companies, could mask the dismal turnout to this year's global technology extravaganza CeBIT 2009. Organiser Deutsche Messe AG tried to put a positive face on the event, but both exhibitor and visitor numbers were down by a crushing 20%.

To Europe, Germany and Hannover, CeBIT is not just a technology show. It is an annual pilgrimage of the European and global technology community that swells the population of the Northern German city of Hannover, normally about 500,000, to double its size. Locals would rent rooms or their entire apartments to visitors and move out for the six days of the show.

When CeBIT was at its height in 1995, it attracted more than 750,000 visitors and 6100 exhibitors. At the show held this time last year visitor numbers were down below 500,000. This year visitor numbers saw a huge drop to 400,000, with 4300 exhibitors, meaning CeBIT is now about half the size in terms of drawing power than it was in the boom years of the mid-1990s.

However, despite the unprecedented depth of the global recession and the general atmosphere of doom and gloom, Deutsche Messe did its best to put on a brave face.

Deutsche Messe AG Board Member Ernst Raue said the industry had drawn “fresh optimism” from the strength of the CeBIT event.

Mr Raue conceded the depth of the global economic crisis had not left the CeBIT event untouched. But given the severity of the economic conditions, Mr Raue said the organisers were “extremely pleased” with the result.

“A huge number of exhibitors and visitors are now leaving Hannover with a renewed sense of buoyancy as well as bulging order books and a solid foundation for new business,” Mr Raue said.

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California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, leading a delegation of more than 50 companies from his state,  opened the event with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. California had special status at CeBIT 2009 as its first ever ‘Partner State.’

Governor Schwarzenegger’'s optimistic and determined attitude strengthened the ICT industry's resolve to capitalise on all the available opportunities,” Mr Raue said.

CeBIT Hannover featured a significantly “Green” outlook, with a lot of interest in ICT products and services that allowed companies to both reduce their carbon footprint while at the same time improving business efficiencies and delivering a fast return on investment.

In his opening address, the environmentally pro-active Governor Schwarzenegger said the climate change was one of the great global challenges of the our time, and that the ICT sector had an enormous role to play both in addressing environmental issues, and in providing the productivity innovations to drag the global economy out of its slump.

“"Technology is also helping us to develop cleaner cars and alternative fuel to clean the air and to fight climate change,"” said Governor Schwarzenegger.

"It's leading also to newer and cheaper forms of renewable energy and all of these advancements save customers and businesses big money and create millions and millions of jobs.”"

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According to Deutsche Messe AG subsidiary Hannover Fairs Australia, its little sister show at the Sydney Convention and Exhbition Centre from May 12-14, CeBIT Australia 2009, is shaping up to be the biggest event the company has held in Australia - unlike the declining Hannover show.

Hannover Fairs Australia Managing Director Jackie Taranto, who led a delegation of top research and business leaders to CeBIT Hannover, said:

"We'’ve actually drawn strength from what we saw in Hannover, and we’re more confident than ever that CeBIT Australia 2009 will be the biggest event we’ve held in Australia in its eight year history.

“"There is enormous interest from business users in new, low-cost solutions that let them gain efficiencies without having to dig deep for capital outlays. We expect record numbers of visitors through the doors at CeBIT Australia, and we think our conference program – which has been tailored to suit the difficult times – will be especially well attended.”"

CeBIT Australia 2009 opens at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre at Darling Harbour from May 12-14.

The event include five separate technology conferences held on-site at the event, including AusInnovate, the nation’s peak R&D/commercialisation forum sponsored by top public sector research agencies NICTA, CSIRO ICT Centre and the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO, and the e-Government Forum, sponsored by the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO).

The other conferences are Access 2009, a peak business telecommunication event; WebForward 2009, a two-day conference on internet-based 2.0 technologies for business; and Enterprise 2009, a event focused on the latest cost-effective technology to maximise business returns.

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Stan Beer

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Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 35 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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