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COMDEX: Honey I shrunk the trade fair

Bounce back fails to materialise at Vegas tech expo

Comdex was understandably depleted in 2001 but rather than bounce back to prosperity this year it's shrunk further still, casting doubts over its future.

Arriving at the Las Vegas Convention Centre gives the first clue that things are a bit subdued — the expanse of marquees in the parking lot, necessary last year due lack of space inside, has been replaced by a solitary tent, inside which you can experience the wonder that is Microsoft's Smart Display.

The expo itself fills just two halls and companies like nVidia are noticeably absent from the show floor, opting to operate from the comfort of a hotel suite instead.

Bill Gates still kicked off proceedings with an address to a fairly packed audience at the MGM Grand — but his speech noticeably lacked details of anything particularly new or exciting save OneNote — an…err… note-taking application for PCs, both Tablet and otherwise. There was also no dressing up; obviously the Microsoft boss felt unable to top last year's take on the boy wizard Harry Potter.

The future of Comdex is further clouded by the rumours that its organisers, Key3Media, may be filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company is apparently withholding comment until after the show.

If things continue on their current trajectory, the feeling is that Comdex could end up as an addendum to January's CES (Consumer Electronics Show), also staged in Vegas, rather than an event in its own right.

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