Wireless, small business focuses of Comdex Chicago 2001

Institutions and companies from Electronic Data Systems Corp. to the US House of Representatives will be represented at Comdex Chicago 2001, which opens its doors next week, with a focus on the wireless market and small business, organizers say.

"You will see a lot of wireless devices and Web tools more positioned for the business marketplace," said Bob Bierman, vice president and general manager of Comdex Chicago, run by Key3Media Events Inc.

More than 70,000 people are expected to attend the show at McCormick Place, and will get a chance to hear keynote speeches by such top executives as Larry Augustin, chief executive officer (CEO) of VA Linux Systems Inc., Brian Halla, chairman, president and CEO of National Semiconductor Corp. and David Peterschmidt, president, chairman and CEO of Inktomi Corp., Bierman said.

In addition, US House Speaker Dennis Hastert, a Republican from Illinois, and other congressional representatives will take part in a public forum on Monday, April 2. Discussions are planned on legislative issues like Internet taxation, privacy and intellectual property rights, Bierman said.

While wireless initiatives will be a key focus of the show, there also will be an emphasis on small businesses, Bierman said. The show will seek to educate businesses about integrating the latest technologies and strategies into business models, he said. A special program called "E-business for Small Business" will educate participants about optimizing the use of technology to better run their small business operations.

"What is unique is that we are trying to reach out to groups we have not reached out to before," he said.

In product and alliance news, EDS is expected to announce plans to form a Web hosting alliance with Microsoft Corp. and three other companies. EDS will provide the managed services, while the other companies will provide the operating system and hardware.

National Semiconductor is expected to make a major announcement about a relationship with another company on Tuesday, but did not disclose details in advance. Meanwhile, software development company 2ce Inc. also will demonstrate its CubeEye three-dimensional browser application for Web sites and corporations, which will be released in May.

Wireless communication tool provider Motient Corp. will show off its clip-on modem for the Palm Inc. V or Vx handheld models. The modem offers a 19.2k bps (bits per second) data rate, a vibrating capability for notifying a user of new mail or messages and a single cable to charge batteries and synch up to a PC. Motient's clip-on modem is scheduled for release in the third quarter of the year; no pricing information is available now.

Noticeably missing from the show are top IT names like IBM Corp., Dell Computer Corp., Gateway Inc. and Microsoft Corp. IBM, Gateway and Dell have skipped the show for quite some time, Bierman said. Microsoft has attended the show in recent years, but chose not to come this year, he said. Microsoft declined to comment on why it will not attend the show.

Vendors at Comdex Chicago will be organized on the show floor in zones based on technology themes to make the show easier to navigate, Bierman said. The Comdex Chicago 2001 conference begins April 2, while the expo begins April 3. Both the conference and expo run through April 5.

For more information about Comdex Chicago 2001, go to http://www.key3media.com/comdex/chicago2001/.

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