The annual Comdex IT trade show, which had been set to open 14 November in Las Vegas, has been postponed by its promoters because of a lack of support from major exhibitors.
Robert W Priest-Heck, president and chief executive officer of MediaLive International, which runs the show, said that "while we could still run a profitable Comdex this year, it does not benefit the industry to do so without broader support of the leading technology companies".
The company said it will postpone the show indefinitely so that it can work to "reshape the event with the co-operation of information technology industry leaders".
MediaLive has established a Comdex Advisory Board which includes representatives from major IT companies to help determine how the show can best meet the future needs of the industry.
"In order to give the advisory board the time and opportunity necessary to partake in the redesign of Comdex, we thought it best to postpone this year's show," Priest-Heck said.
Last November's Comdex was the first under MediaLive International, which took over the show from its former promoters, Key3Media, which had filed for bankruptcy.
At that time, Eric Faurot, vice-president and general manager of the show, said the first MediaLive-run Comdex was smaller than previous shows and was still working to bring in more major suppliers to reposition the event as a focused, business-to-business IT show.
Faurot called it "essentially a launch show for us" and said that future events would cater even more to enterprise IT companies.
About 40,000 visitors attended last year's show, down from some 200,000 in its heyday during the 1990s.
Faurot said that one of the keys to again making Comdex a must-see event is to find ways to get the major IT suppliers back on the show floor so products and technologies can be compared more fully.
Some major suppliers, including IBM and Linux suppliers Red Hat and SuSE Linux, which is now part of Novell, were not at the show last year.
Adding insult to injury for MediaLive, executives from IBM and other companies actually came to Las Vegas for the show but met privately with customers in hotel suites, rather than paying for booth space at the show itself.
"We're talking with everybody, and that's exactly what the board is going to address," Faurot said. "The reality is it takes time to get trust back."
Last year, many attendees criticised the show for a lack of an IT focus, and many said they were not sure they would return. Comdex officials acknowledged the criticisms and said they were working to reshape the event, with the 2003 show just the starting point for the changes.
The event had been criticised in recent years for growing too glitzy and straying from its roots as a business IT show. Instead, it had become something of a consumer electronics and gadgets event, which made it less important to corporate IT professionals.
All other scheduled MediaLive events, seminars and programmes will take place as planned, including Comdex events in Brazil, Korea, Scandinavia, Saudi Arabia and Greece.
Todd R Weiss writes for Computerworld