Are trade shows dead? My answer might surprise you

Harry McCracken, who used to be the lead editor over at PC World, notes that CES is getting smaller. 22% smaller this year.

I will predict it will be even smaller next year. Why? Because I know many of the marketers at the world’s largest tech companies and they say they are going to downsize their booths next year.

But, I’m also hearing enough people say that they are getting good value out of their investments here so they will increase in size or stay the same.

So, I was wrong to say that CES is going to die. It’s pretty clear that won’t happen.

On the other hand? MacWorld is in the midst of a death spiral. No one I know expects that show to be around in two years. They should have rebranded it iPhone World. That might have saved it. Now? I don’t know if it is savable. IDG is welcome to call me and tell me why it’ll be a strong show, but with Apple and other key vendors pulling out that sure looks dead.

Walking around Broadcom’s booth at CES also taught me a lesson. That the CES show is going back to its roots: interactions between tech companies and the buyers. That’s something that can only efficiently happen in a tradeshow: getting all those people to visit your company’s headquarters just won’t happen.

So, tradeshows won’t disappear. But they will definitely be smaller for a while. By the way the taxi drivers I talked to in Vegas said every trade show this year had smaller audiences than the previous years. Vegas is getting slammed by the downturn (the airport on Sunday was empty, I haven’t seen that in Vegas since the 1980s).

Enjoy this video from Broadcom’s booth
, they show me the chip that will be in the next cell phones coming next year.

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