FRAMINGHAM, 24 FEBRUARY 2011 - Not only are consumer IT products finding their way into the enterprise, they're also finding their way back into Cebit, one of the world's biggest professional IT shows, which opens in Hanover, Germany, next week.
After years asserting that Cebit was all about business, and seeing consumer electronics giants desert the show for the IFA gadget festival held in Berlin each August, Cebit is once again welcoming consumer electronics manufacturers, in a special area called "Cebit Life" that the organizers say is "a celebration of the digital lifestyle."
Sharp hasn't returned since 2007, the year its staff famously wore jackets saying "Sayonara Cebit", and Philips (PHG) too now favors IFA as a showcase for its products. However, a number of other gadget makers never left Cebit, they just hid away in Planet Reseller, an invitation-only zone in halls 14 and 15 for manufacturers to show new products to their channel partners. That's where you'll find LG and Motorola (MOT) this year, for example.
But Cebit Life, in halls 19 and 23, is where you'll find home entertainment -- including the launch of the new Ultra home-theater PC and Prodigy media player from Xtreamer; connected TVs; tablets and e-readers; navigation devices; home automation and smart metering, including the Zonos HausSitter from Cuculus, a new energy management system that can be controlled from an iPhone or iPad.
Apple (AAPL) won't be at the show, of course -- it has a prior engagement in San Francisco on Wednesday for what is expected to be the launch of the iPad 2 -- but other tablet makers will be there, including Asus, which will show its Eee Pad Slider, a 10-inch Android 3.0 device with a touchscreen and a slide-out keyboard. Dell's Streak 7 will be there, as will Fujitsu's Stylistic Q550, a tablet with business features.
Sony Computer Entertainment has a booth, and there will also be a big focus on gaming on PCs (Acer will run a 200-seat gaming area with high-end PCs) and on smartphones -- although it's not all play, play, play: next Friday a one-day seminar on "serious gaming" will look at the use of game technologies as educational tools in the enterprise.
Beyond the playful facade of Cebit Life, you'll also find more serious enterprise products intended for doing things properly, including 260 exhibitors with ERP (enterprise resource planning) products, and a whole area devoted to managed print services in Hall 3. As Cebit organizer Frank Pörschmann said, "Nearly every CeBIT visitor uses a printing device or a printing application, but only a fraction of them are aware of the potential opportunities and time savings offered by output management and managed print services." If that's your kind of thing, then Doxnet, the Document X-perts Network, is hosting a knowledge-sharing and networking event at the show on the Wednesday afternoon.
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