JCL Blog

Comdex the Verb

Some would say that the adoption of your brand name as the accepted description of an action, preferrably the action of using your product, is the pinnacle of branding.  Xerox did it, Google did it, Kodak almost did it, although with a Kodak Moment, the brand is really an adjective modifying a moment. 

Sure it could be great if it happens, but an overt effort to make it happen could backfire.  Are we really ever going to say we Binged it?  Trademark lawyers advise companies to do whatever they can to avoid the adoption of their brand name as a generic description of an action -- because at that point protecting the trademark becomes difficult if not impossible. In fact, Xerox did for many years invest heavily to discourage people from using their name as a verb.  What an interesting world we live in.

Comdex is making a comeback this year after six years of dormancy.  Like many technology companies or even the technology industry itself, Comdex had an unbelievable rocket ship ride from 1979 to 2003.  The event topped out at about the same time that the internet bubble reached its peak in 2000 -- with over 200,000 people attending the main event in Las Vegas, plus the organizers staged many other events scattered around the world throughout the year.  At the end Comdex was the show everyone loved to hate -- and there was plenty to hate about fighting it out with a hoard of fellow geeks -- just to get a hotel room or a taxi.  I suppose that during its time as a must attend event, people eventually came to chafe at the must part.

United Business Media bought the carcass of Comdex in 2006 and has elected to bring the event back this year.  The setting is still Las Vegas, but this time it is a virtual Las Vegas.  No lines, no crowds, and much cheaper for everyone.  This virtual (and green) version of Comdex will really be something to watch.  The spectacle of the real Comdex had a way of dominating the tech news.  Strangely, we are 93 days from the virtual event, and the tech media is amazingly silent.  Google it and you get the press releases from March, search on Twitter and you get references to the MCX Comdex commodities exchange, search on valleywag - nothing, search on techcrunch - nothing, digg - nothing, techmeme - nothing.  Even a search for comdex on the UBM site  produces zero results.  Amazingly, a search on techweb -- the event producer -- no results.  (bear in mind that these links are live searches on those sites, so if content has been added after this posting -- search results may vary)

The other UBM company behind the event, Everything Channel, does not have search functionality on its web site, but does list Comdex on its events page

Given this media vacuum it would not be accurate to say that the whole industry is waiting to see what happens on November 16th and 17th.  It will be interesting however to see if the popular adaptation of "to Comdex" as a verb is different on November 18th.  


Comdex is Back

Everything Channel purchased the company that owned the Comdex brand in 2006 and has just this year launched plans to bring back what was at one time the biggest technology trade show on earth.  Believe it or not it probably never made it into the top ten largest trade shows of all time with Auto, Book, and Agribusiness tradeshows dominating the top 10.

But this is a legacy brand with a new twist:  The show is going virtual.  In an refracting irony suitable for the hall of mirrors, Comdex will be reborn in a virtual Las Vegas -- where there are physical replicas of New York and Paris!  Yow!  We can now go to Virtual Comdex and see virtual renditions of New York and Paris set in a virtual Las Vegas, all without leaving the comfort of our desks.

With this many layers of virtualization, I wonder if I have to worry about getting back safely.  

All histrionics aside, we all should applaud Everything Channel for bringing back this great event while at the same time pushing us into a new experience.  We will be there -- and I hope you will be too.

Parallel Universes

Anyone in tech not watching Cranky Geeks is really missing out.  In the past few weeks, John Dvorak and Sebastian Rupley have become the new Smothers Brothers with the straight man - slow guy routine.   Of course they claim to be covering the tech news, and they do regularly have good guests, but it is much more entertainment than anything else.

Now I don't know if either of the geeks has any musical talent, and their humor is certainly not  as widely appreciated, but I find myself busting up every time John Dvorak asks who Om Giga is.  One could say the Cranky Geeks are a parallel universe of the Smothers Brothers show.

This brings up something I wonder about often.  Of the people that participate in the technology industry we seem to have a few parallel universes.  Three that I think about are the Channel, the Geeks, and the New Media.  People and companies often operate in more than one universe, but sometimes it surprises me how much distance there is between them.  

The Channel is concerned mostly with how technology products are sold to businesses and the discussion is usually around the channel partner programs of the main vendors and how the go to market propositions differ from vendor to vendor.  The leading commentators are Everything Channel and Channel Insider and the leading association would be CompTIA.

The Geeks are concerned mostly with the technology itself and the discussion often revolves around new product launches, technology standards, and how the makers of the products are getting along.  The commentators include PC MagazineTechCrunchCnet and the leading association would be CEA.  The Cranky Geeks are probably in this group and maybe Robert Scoble and Leo Laporte.  I sometimes cannot decide where those guys actually fit.

The New Media are the bloggers and maybe some institutions like the New York Times.  The discussion in this group is mostly about how technology is changing the way we consume information and the impact on the newspapers, TV stations, movies, music, and ultimately our society. The commentators include Jeff Jarvis, Dave Winer, David Weinberger, and many others of course.  

As a follower of people and organizations in all three universes I am often struck by how the conversation in one universe can be disconnected from the others.  I will be writing more about this phenomenon and would be very interested in comments on your experiences.