Supercomm Faces the Music
An unscientific Light Reading poll of the industry found no vendors skipping out on the show. But there were plenty that wish they could, and think Supercomm is on the hook to prove it can survive.
"I have a sense this is going to be the last year," says one longtime Supercomm-goer.
Not everyone is so doom-and-gloom. "I think, in North America, there's a demand for a large carrier show," one exhibitor tells Light Reading.
But most exhibitors are taking a middle position that's well summed up by another source: "It had better be better than last year."
You all know the cartoony story by now: an attempted split into two shows (some vendors are still bitter about that), a reunification, a revival of the old Supercomm name, and, in March, a surprise move to October rather than June. (See Supercomm Reborn! and Supercomm 2009 Delayed Until October.)
Supercomm is still a see-and-be-seen destination for telecom equipment providers. But 2008 was slow, and there's a sense among some that Mobile World Congress outshines Supercomm as an all-industry destination.
Supercomm is fighting back with a new focus. Rather than vaguely cover core-network issues, the show in 2009 is all about broadband, and the applications and services it enables.
Carriers and vendors were glad to see the show adopt that theme, says Jan Maciejewski, Supercomm's managing director. "What is important is showing how technology has transformed our ability to do things. That's where the concept of a broadband life comes from."
And while vendors suspect the date change had to do with low exhibitor numbers, Supercomm officials insist it was all about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. They had guessed (correctly) that the ARRA's first round would be slow to unfold. By moving the show to October, organizers have been able to line up more sessions about fundraising and the grants process, Maciejewski says.
They got a keynote bonus as well: Aneesh Chopra, chief technology officer of the United States (and, if you're into long titles, Associate Director for Technology in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy). He'll be speaking on Thursday, Oct. 22.
The 2010 dates for Supercomm have been set for Oct. 26 to Oct. 29. Plenty of vendors don't like the show being in the thick of the fall tradeshow block, and Supercomm organizers had to smooth out some feelings there. (See Supercomm's Busy Month.) But according to Maciejewski, a lot of participants find October more agreeable than June, which is near some big tradeshows anyway and clashes with school holidays.
As for a venue, a return to Las Vegas -- which, remember, was supposed to host NXTcomm every other year -- seems unlikely. (See NXTcomm Bets on 'Even' Vegas Dates.)
Carriers and vendors mostly favor Chicago, Maciejewski says. One possible reason: There's more of a carrier population around Chicago than in the Nevada desert (another one: last year's 106 degree heat with, we're told, no air conditioning during booth setup).
"Conversations we've had indicate that Chicago is the place they want it to be next year," Maciejewski says.
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading