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Thursday, May 18, 2006

LinuxWorld SA Update

I attended the LinuxWorld SA and Futurex exhibitions yesterday and I must say I am sorely disappointed. What happened to the days of decent exhibitions and trade shows here in South Africa. We are meant to be competing in a global market and we are meant to be the forerunners in ICT on the continent.

Firstly, both exhibitions were merged into one very small hall. There was no atmosphere, no vibrance and at first look very little effort put in by the exhibitors into their stands. It felt like you were at a "I'll-pop-a-pile-of-paper-in-your-hand-and-you-read-it" type of conference. These guys might as well have saved their money and handed out pamphlets at traffic intersections.

Secondly, every other exhibitor was selling or promoting almost exactly the same kind of technology (eg: servers, anti-virus products, etc). Where is the diversification of technology? Are we all trying to sell the same thing to end-users, because if we are, we have a serious problem with the future of technology in this country.

Thirdly, and I think we can blame this on the organisers, is the venue itself. Being in the middle of a extremely upper class commercial complex, the venue can only be horrendously expensive, which translates into exorbitant costs for exhibitors. This limits the variation of exhibitors who can afford stands at a venue like this. The venue also resulted in limited paid parking, and very poor traffic planning. I remember the days the "Computer Faire" was at Nasrec, and Gallagher Estates, and it was far more exciting, much larger (4 huge halls of stands at Nasrec) and the whole exhibition had so much more energy.

Something needs to be done to the poor state the annual Futurex exhibition is in, or I fear it will be a lost cause by next year. LinuxWorld only held it's second event this year, and by matter of association to Futurex, I fear it was also a dismal flop, and also faces a bleak future if it does not dissociate itself and stands on it's own.

One good note though, congratulations to the guys from the Geeks Freedom League, LPI, and company whose stand impressed me. By far the best at this year's exhibition.

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