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IBM pulls out of ’98 Comdex

December 24, 1997

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ IBM is pulling out of the world’s largest computer show because the company believes Comdex has gotten too big.

That, at least, is the reason IBM gives for not attending Comdex next year for the first time in the show’s 20-year history.

Comdex organizers estimate about 220,000 people saw last month’s show, which IBM attended. Next year’s show is scheduled for Nov. 16-20.

``We don’t think Comdex is the best way to reach our customers,″ said John Bukovinsky, a spokesman for the Armonk, N.Y.-based computer giant. ``Comdex is a good way to talk to customers about products, but not the best way to talk about solutions.″

In order to work directly with prospective customers about their personal computer needs, Bukovinsky said IBM needs ``an environment that is not as hectic and crowded as Comdex has become.

International Business Machines Corp. also doesn’t plan to attend the smaller Comdex Spring show in April, held in Chicago.

A spokeswoman for Softbank Comdex, the company that produces the computer shows worldwide, said that while IBM would be missed, the company’s absence won’t hurt the premier show of the computer industry.

``Companies have to make their own decisions with regard to their own marketing programs on their own basis,″ said Suzanne Lonergan, spokeswoman for the Needham, Mass.-based show producer.

Based on a statement issued by Jason Chudnofsky, president and chief executive officer of ZD Comdex & Forums, a Softbank Comdex division, IBM’s decision may be rooted in a dispute over next year’s booth placement, not crowded conditions on the trade-show floor.

``Statements have appeared in the media over the last several days attributed to IBM and its divisions regarding their decision not to exhibit in Comdex Fall 1998,″ Chudnofsky said. ``We are extremely surprised at these statements, especially in light of the promotional visibility IBM has given the impact and success of their participation in Comdex through a nationwide series of advertisements in major newspapers.″

Chudnofsky then explained how IBM broke off talks with Comdex organizers after an unnamed competing exhibitor selected IBM’s location on the trade-show floor. IBM chose a location, but wanted to change the booth configuration. The Comdex staff rejected the reconfiguration and suggested alternatives, but IBM’s authorizing executive needed to review the plan.

``While the situation was being reviewed with this executive, a company with a later booth selection number selected the booth under discussion,″ said Chudnofsky. ``Upon being notified that the booth had been selected by another organization, the IBM team left the booth selection process without any further discussion of alternatives.″

IBM’s 16,000-square-foot two-level booth was one of the most visible displays of the 1997 show with a location in the main convention center hall near a main entrance and a concession area.

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