Trade fairs merge to tap changing market: Switzerland's Internet and communications trade fair, Orbit-iEX will kick off at the 'Messe Basel', May 24th to 27th. Swiss News takes a look at what's at the show--and what's on the drawing board in new technology.

AuteurMeen, Elizabeth
Fonction Business

Technically, the show is marking its first year, but IT buffs can be forgiven if it sounds a tad familiar. The fair represents a merger of two major trade shows unveiling new technologies: "Orbit," with long experience in information and communications technology, and "iEX," which focuses on emerging Internet technologies.

Together, those fairs have typically drawn 40,000 visitors and 752 exhibitors. The market was widely held to be too small to support two trade shows, but organisers say the main reason for putting them together was a natural "merger" taking place in the industry.

You might have noticed it yourself. Internet uses cable and phone lines. Ditto for TV cable providers. Cell phones are mini computers and cameras. The latest computer prototypes make great phones--callers appear on screen with their message relayed in text and by voice.

These days you can check emails from your cell phone, plug into eGovernment websites on the train from your handy, activate your home thermostat from the office, or do your banking online. These advances require a dizzying blend of upscale technologies, but organisers hope the fair will bring together all the major players and their latest offerings, and help people get comfortable with the ideas.

Telecom giant Swisscom registered early for the Basel event. Spokesman Sepp Huber says the combined showcase will work for vendors as well as customers.

"IT products are becoming progressively more integrated and it makes sense to bundle these forces into a large national trade fair platform."

'Makes sense'

A note on the Orbit-iEX web page says content at the iEX and Orbit exhibitions was overlapping" and this meant that competition between the IT exhibitions was becoming increasingly cut-throat and unproductive."

Holding the joint event in May also allows quick introduction to the Swiss public of the world's IT innovations, which are generally launched in the spring. So, what can we expect this year?

The field is constantly evolving. Last year saw a spring announcement...

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