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Survey Says: Antarra Polls REPLItech Regulars on Tradeshows and Trends
Posted May 1, 2002 Print Version     Page 1of 1
  

May 2002|With computing industry pundits everywhere claiming to have witnessed the death of the trade show, citing dramatically reduced crowds and exhibitor absenteeism at behemoth shows like COMDEX and CeBit, and cancellation and consolidation shrinking smaller technology and application-specific shows, REPLItech North American pressed on in February 2002 wearing many of the earmarks of the dead-show era. With the traditional conference content superseded by an IRMA-specific program (in deference to the PBI-IRMA partnership that has kept the show afloat), and several key replicators and duplication standbys notable in their absence (Technicolor, WEA/Ivy Hill, Rimage, MicroBoards), and the show floor hardly humming with the massive injecting molding machines and other operati maximi that have typified the show in years past, this wasn't even your older brother's REPLItech.

But the show went on, and presented an exhibit hall consisting of three pavilions: Pre-Mastering, New Media Technology, and Network Storage and Distribution. EMedia, a media sponsor, attempted to capture both the atmosphere of the show and some state-of-the-industry assessments from attendees and exhibitors with a 14-question survey distributed on the show floor. Prepared, administered, and tabulated by Antarra Communications (www. antarra.com) co-founders Carol Warren and Susan van Barneveld, the survey culled data from 47 participants among the attendees and exhibitors at the show, gathering demographic and (planned) purchasing data, information on where sales come from (where applicable) and best resources for sales and purchases, expectations for 2002 market performance in technology areas served and addressed by the REPLItech conference (CD/DVD replication, media, etc.), preferences among other trade shows and industry publications, planned trade show exhibiting and attendance for 2002, and more.

The respondent pool consisted of 26 attendees and 21 exhibitors. Fifteen of the participating exhibitors described themselves as VARs, while nine identified themselves as Duplicators, and only one as a Replicator. The attendees were fairly evenly distributed among the six categories (Distributor, Replicator, Duplicator, Sales Rep, Equipment Manufacturer, and VAR); among them were five Duplicators, five Replicators, four VARs, and three Sales Reps.

Several questions focused on the state of the industry—implicitly on its state mid-recession, addressing the question of whether respondents expect reversals of fortune in this calendar year. Thirty-one respondents said they expect 2002 to be a better revenue year than 2001; among the seven agreeing "strongly," four were exhibitors and three attendees. Among the 24 just "agreeing," 15 were exhibitors and nine attendees. Responses to the more complex question of where to rank "growth areas for 2002" were both more scattered and scant; however, it seems reasonable to infer that respondents expect greater growth in sales and use of DVD media and drives (upwards of 7 for both with 10 the highest rating) than CD media and drives (just about an even 5). Exhibitors seem particularly sanguine about DVD media prospects, scoring them at 7.81. DVD duplicators were cited as another growth area (7.382, with 75% of participants responding), while no one seems to expect much action in the DVD jukebox scene, with a mean rating of 3.571. As for how respondents expect all this CD and DVD media to be used, 12 picked "DVD movies" as the area contributing most to growth in media use, while "Storage" and "Video" rated 11 each.

Probably the best indication of how optimistic the REPLItech crowd is about this year versus last year comes from responses to a question on the fate of their marketing budget: 23 (10 exhibitors and 13 attendees) say their budgets have increased; 15 (11 exhibitors and four attendees) say their 2002 marketing budgets are the same as 2001's; eight (five attendees, three exhibitors) indicated decreases.

In addition to seeing and being seen, there's essentially one reason why an exhibitor picks one show or another to buy floor space: what they expect attendees to buy. The sixth question in the survey addressed this issue for the sampling of REPLItech attendees who participated: Which will you buy in 2002? Among attendees, the clear winner was CD/DVD printers, netting 10 responses. CD-R and DVD-R media purchases of 10,000 and up also proved popular, scoring six and seven responses, respectively. Also of inherent interest to trade show exhibitor types was the question of what respondents base their equipment purchasing decisions on. Trade shows and live demonstrations scored 7 and 8.1, respectively, on the 10-high scale; "Product reviews" fell smack in the middle with a 7.583 rating. Corollary questions: Where do your sales come from? Exhibitors ranked "Sales Reps" and "Tradeshows" highest with 20 and 18 respondents checking those boxes; attendees favored their own sales reps and Web sites.

With REPLItech representing such a physical media-specific segment of the industry, with its traditional ties to TapeDisc Business magazine and its new official ties to IRMA, several factors in a changing industry and economy potentially bear on not only the conference's success, but also that of its attendees and exhibitors who work in that segment of the industry. In a survey question dealing with the impact of various factors' expected impact on respondents business over the next 12-24 months, the first part dealt with an issue of broader relevance: Economic Conditions. Twenty-five respondents (16 exhibitors, 9 attendees) say they expect the economy's impact to be positive; 11 expect a negative impact. Moving on to questions more specific to the physical media specificity of the REPLItech scene, 18 respondents (11 exhibitors, 7 attendees) say they expect the growth of content delivery networks to affect their businesses positively; 10 (eight exhibitors, 2 attendees) expect the opposite.

As for Streaming Content, 14 said good; 10 said bad. As for the question most specific to this year's REPLItech—according to the show's Web site, "the first step in strengthening the strategic alliance between IRMA and PBI Media"—and other formerly "independent" trade shows partnering for preservation, 19 respondents agreed strongly or otherwise that such alliances "bode well for the future of trade shows." (13 of these yea-sayers were exhibitors.) Thirteen respondents chose to remain neutral; six of those disagreed strongly or otherwise.

So is the trade show dead? One would be hard pressed to find a definitive answer here, although Antarra has clearly gleaned some other useful data points about what trade show attendees and exhibitors predict and expect for the year to come.

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