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Perhaps COMDEX Virtual wasn’t a game-changer

While reading about this week’s absolutely-must-do trade show, SXSW, I wondered about the trade show that was a big deal 20 years ago – namely, COMDEX.

That’s when I belatedly discovered that COMDEX was relaunched in 2010. At the time, It’s All Virtual discussed the implications.

Today’s news is nothing short of a game changer and turning point for our industry. Virtual events have enjoyed growing adoption – initially from B2B publishers and recently from corporations. Adoption rates have been particularly strong from the same technology vendors who used to exhibit at COMDEX. Now, however, one of the most widely known event brands has made the move to embrace virtual.

So I figured I’d go to the COMDEX website to get the full story. And when I got to the page, I was greeted by this:

Which is all right and fine…except for the fact that the invitation to register for the November 2011 COMDEX was still displaying in March 2012. Not a good sign.

However, as a recent (December 7) tweet reminds us, COMDEX Virtual is still going on. I COULD register today if I wanted to, and would still have access to the show until May (the show is available for six months after the actual date).

Is it worthwhile to register? According to sponsor UBM, yes:

FRAMINGHAM, Mass., Dec. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — UBM Channel, in partnership with UBM Studios, today announced the success of the second annual COMDEXvirtual event, the largest independent virtual gathering of the IT Channel. With more than 4,300 attendees over the course of two days, the impressive virtual event featured more than 40 speakers, a dozen keynotes, and nine on demand conference sessions.

OK, but what about independent coverage of the event? CRN had an impressive collection of stories about COMDEXVirtual 2011…oh wait, they’re a UBM subsidiary.

I ended up searching Google News for all mentions of “Comdex” between November 10 and 23, 2011. Within the English language results, I found references to COMDEX 2001 and COMDEX 2003, but the only reference to COMDEX 2011 was from UBM.

Perhaps it’s unfair to compare COMDEX to its glory days – kind of like comparing Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show to a future Tonight Show with Willow Smith or whoever replaces Jay Leno. And perhaps COMDEX was meaningful for the 4,300+ who did attend, even if the rest of the world didn’t care.

But it just goes to show that something can be extremely popular in one decade, and…um…virtually forgotten in the next.

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