CeBIT ended yesterday, and I can't say I miss it. Most importantly, the product lines were thin. Secondly, there was a transport strike on the fair's first day. And, there is, apparently, a shortage of prostitutes in Hannover, a definite problem for the whore-mongering tech press corps. (You know who you are.) The last time it was important enough to attend was several years ago, and I'm not sure we're ever going to this show again.
Back to the products: "iRobot introduces cheap refresh to its Verro pool robot." Wow. "Razer introduces entry-level mouse." Ooh, it's getting hot in here. And Wilson's personal favourite, "Logitech unveils first wireless stereo headset for internet calling with a PC." Mmmm. dreamy. Still, work is work.
A couple of weeks back, I started checking travel websites to see how much it would cost to get there. It was US$925 and I would have to fly via Mallorca—a journey of over five hours, excluding check-in time. On top of that, you've got two nights in a hotel, plus expenses. We were looking at paying out around US$3,000, then, for a day and a half tops at the fair. No bango, and mucho bucko.
So, I emailed Dieter Jirmann, one of the writers on German Gizmodo. Was he going? He replied the next day.
As far as I know no one from Giz Germany will be in Hannover, so sorry—perhaps better luck at this year's IFA where we can perhaps arrange something beforehand.
If you need any advice for Hannover though (Germany's capital of really bad music—Scorpions are only the tip of the iceberg) please just let us know—we are all vets of surviving CeBIT.
That was it, I'm afraid. If the Scorpions live in Hannover, then it's a deal-breaker. And if writers based in Germany weren't even going to go, was there any point in us schlepping all the way there?
Some people, however, did think it was worth it. Ballmer turned up to promote software that displays your electricity consumption on your PC, a tie-in with German energy provider Yello Strom. Eff that, Steve, said the journalists at the press conference, we want to talk to you about Yahoo.
Greenpeace held a press conference to say that some of the tech companies were *pats heads patronisingly* doing better on the green front, but there was still room for improvement. CeBIT's organisers, who had spent so much time and energy promoting the green side of technology, were left scratching their heads when just a smattering of journos bothered to park their arses on the chairs to listen to the charity's lecture.
Sadly for CeBIT, the real news has come from the police's anti-piracy busts. Fifty-one booths were raided, including that of Meizu, whose portable MP3 player was the culprit, rather than its iPhone doppelganger, the Mini One smartphone.
Last year's CeBIT had stuff going on, the sinister Blu-ray organisation saying they would own the world in just three years, plus a heap of interesting gear. And let's not forget the laydeez, either. But this year, what has gone on? Hands-on with the Meizu, Asus' UMPC and a bunch of Samsung printers—and we're talking edited highlights here.
My guess is that tech companies have realised that too many announcements of the same things at different fairs dilutes the message. The PRs think that the six-day CeBIT, reduced this year from seven, is shinky-shonky. This is what Michael Langbehn, German head of PR and Marketing for Panasonic, thinks. "We decided to do product launches globally at CES. Then there's IFA, which is a must." This year, Panasonic is only using CeBIT to promote its business-solution products.
This is one of the things on show at CeBIT this year. I think it looks like a headshot for the latest Sigourney Weaver movie, Alien XIII: Showdown At The Olympic Velodrome, but feel free to tell me that I am even more stupid than you originally thought. Anyway, do you have a clue? Do you even care? It is, gadget lovers, Gigabyte's Cool Rain, a water-cooled memory module, and a product that the Japanese site Impress put up under the heading: "At CeBIT found Worrisome PC-Related Products."
IFA 2008 is less than six months away, and I can guarantee you that it will be a crazy fest of deliciousness, of products that we actually want, rather than a bunch of Apple rip-offs, earnest pledges to do better for the environment (while flying a heap of products halfway round the world to show them off to overweight men in suits. Oh, and me.)
But don't get me wrong. Apple rip-offs make me laugh, but they should only be a side order of chips to the curry wurst of brand new-and-amazing gear that we can fondle. And you can bet there won't be a hooker shortage in Berlin, either. [CNET and Reuters and Hexus and PC Watch]