Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Update: What with all the political news, there hasn't been a great deal of space devoted to new technology. And, with the continuing economic doldrums, it appears that innovation - for the time being - is slowing down - at least in terms of products coming to market.

One good thing: SEGWAY is now available for consumer sale - place your order now at Amazon! The personal transportation device may well be the most complex and sophisticated consumer device ever sold - it's out of the price range of most - but it certainly sets the mind to wondering. Dean Kamen's DEKA Research is likely also harboring some other ideas that will see light of day soon.

Another good thing: Iomega has introduced yet another improvement in its Zip line of disk cartridges. Causing a huge stir when the first version of 100MB capacity, the Zip drive filled a major gap just before CD-R and CD-RW became inexpensively. Then the 250MB version made data back-up and transfer easy for less-than-CD-sized volumes of data.

Now Iomega has introduced a 750MB drive, with USB 2.0 and Firewire connectivity. Price is about $170 depending on configuration. A 3-pack of 750MB disks goes for $39.99 retail.

Industry shrinking or re-shaping? COMDEX is just not having a good time at all. Less than half the exhibitors, just over half the space of 2 years ago, indicate the less-than-newsworthy state of the industry. There is some concern that COMDEX may not survive. One of the galling aspects of such an attitude is my continuing lack of understanding of why companies build products and services that start small, grow big, but yet cannot reverse the process. Life and economies ebb and flow, grow and shrink over time - business concepts should be able to do the same thing. COMDEX is now about 20 years old. I remember attending the next-to-last National Computer Show in 1981. NCS was one of the largest shows in the country all dedicated to computing - and they had a hard time dealing with the just-exploding personal computer business. It was a huge show, over-running the Anaheim Convention Center - larger than anything the show had seen before. But the next year the first COMDEX happened and vendors abandoned NCS in great numbers. The last NCS was a shadow of its previous year, and that was the last one.

So maybe COMDEX is on its last legs. Maybe its role will be taken over by the already-huge Consumer Electronic Show. But the key point to remember is that this is not the Armageddon of computing - it's part of a cycle, a repeating cycle - and the functionality of COMDEX will be back - in whatever form makes sense in the market - for the time.