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What people said about SEMICON West but I was too afraid to ask!

20 July 2009 | By Mark Osborne | Editor's Blog

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On the long-haul flight over to this year’s SEMICON West, I reminded myself not to be all doom and gloom and totally despondent on the expected tumbleweeds blowing through North and South Halls. Having been pre-warned by a number of equipment suppliers about the drastic reduction in the number of exhibitors and expected attendees, I would try and look at the positive aspects and see how it went!

Reflecting on the busy week over a beer at the ‘press office’ (W Hotel) on Thursday with former work colleagues and friends from Impress PR and a group of editor friends from some of the other trade magazines, I realised that I had had a good show, having met with a host of companies and individuals that in ‘normal’ times would simply be impossible to meet.

With so many of the major suppliers in low profile mode or simply not there, I had the chance to fill more of my schedule with first-timers. These were companies that were either new, or new to me in the sense that I had never had the chance to meet with them before. So from that perspective I had a very good show and definitely benefited from attending, no question?

Interestingly, the most common question asked of me was what I thought of the show, or the hall I was in at the time. Though that question always came up in the past, I noted how many people said that outright, before I had the chance to ask them the same question. My response was simply that I was supposed to ask that question, not them!

But then in reality I was afraid to ask! It would have been a high percentage that would have rolled their heads back then forward and bashed the table repeatedly, only stopping when serious damage was imminent.

Another positive from the show was a new level of pragmatism and lack of usual hype. In a meeting with a start-up, I was encouraged by the honesty when they paused mid-PowerPoint pitch, to remind me that “of course you do realise that with the current situation, we haven’t sold any tools yet”!

Also different and better than in the last few years, I actually saw some people from the likes of Intel, TSMC and others. I had stopped name badge watching a few years ago but found I was starting to do that again after a few chance hallway moments with above noted company engineers.

As was proving to be the case, the fewer numbers in attendance meant that I was able to notice a few things and get noticed by people that I would always be happy to stop and talk to but would normally miss due to the flow of traffic etc…

In particular was meeting Len Jelinek from iSuppli Corp, for the first time in person. Funny thing was that we have spoken to each other on a regular basis for so many years, yet never met. Indeed as was the way of this year’s event it was purely by chance and he recognised me first, not the other way round. Though we didn’t get more than a few minutes together it was an important meet nonetheless.

One problem that was soon resolved on several occasions, was attempting to meet at booths with people that due to the downsizing, meant there was no room at the booths to actually do the meeting.

The solution in South Hall was to go and have the meeting at the Applied Materials booth!

Well not exactly. It was more a case of where the AMAT booth would normally be, conveniently replaced with lots of tables and chairs, brilliant idea.

I also picked-up negative comments about the Intersolar event taking place for the second year in the much nicer, lighter and brighter West Hall. Some people felt it lacked the buzz of last year as well as the traffic. On the surface that may have been an initial thought of mine but going back late Friday afternoon for an hour I realised that it was now using all three floors not one and therefore more spread out.

Less traffic? I doubt it.

The final positive was actually having a lot more meetings in the halls instead of running from one hotel to another to meet companies which had decided to not have a booth but still piggyback the event for free, a growing number I might add over the last few years.

Two years-ago I didn’t even get to South Hall for meetings until the last day of the show and didn’t have a single meeting in North Hall due to the number of must-attend events away from the action on the show floor. That all stopped this year and I hope it doesn’t return too soon either.

As I didn’t ask people what the show was like, you may have to go and look at other blogs and reports, but at least you got my view as that in itself is a rare occurrence as it would normally take weeks to recover and by then probably not worth bothering with.

May the good SEMICON West show continue.

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