When you walk into this year's expanded exhibit area of the O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON moved from the crowded Mariott Hotel in downtown Portland, Ore. across the Willamette River to the much larger Oregon Convention Center.) you see sizable booths bearing the logos of almost all of the major vendors in the IT industry--Apple Computer, Computer Associates, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Sun Microsystems. A gang of deep-pocket technology firms who, since the demise of the Comdex trade show, have not had the opportunity to all rub elbows together. Surrounding the Big Players are dozens of smaller firms. Some of these little companies were not at previous OSCONs. Some are there on return engagements. A handful will probably not exist by next year's, presumably bigger event. It's very reminiscent to how Comdex grew from a middling-size conference into the industry giant that so recently quickly collapsed.
IT vendors are seeking another Comdex. They've always liked BIG SHOWS. Back in the early 1980s there was the National Computing Conference and Interface, which were eclipsed by Comdex and Networld.
Why do vendors like sprawling conferences? Because they need an effective avenue to reach those who distribute technology. That's what these conferences provide them. And what's the early 21st century's model for distributing software? Open source.
So, keep an eye on OSCON. When O'Reilly moves his show to Las Vegas (I'm betting by 2008.), you'll know we have found Comdex's replacement.