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Harder times hitting the JavaOne conference

Perfect conditions for technological leaps
Sat May 24 2003, 10:26
A FEW CALLS to the hotels surrounding the JavaOne conference scheduled for next month in San Francisco can confirm what many people have been whispering about. If hotel vacancies are any indicator, attendence this year is likely to be slightly lower than usual. But the few brave souls who can still afford the $3,500 for plane tickets, room, board, and the 1900 dollar entrance fee are probably still in for a fantastic and instructive week.

There doesn't appear to be any shortage of vendors this year. Nearly every booth has been filled. The empty ones are probably no cause for alarm. There are always stragglers and last-minute signups. 5'x5' booths are running for a mere 11,000 dollars and 10'x10' booths fetch a hefty 18k, so we know the vendors are committed to putting on a good show.

The lower attendance probably has nothing to do with user sentiment about Java or Sun. The hard truth is this: people can't afford to fly to California the way IBM's chairman Samuel J. Palmisano, president Steven Mills and head of technology Nicholas Donofrio have recently flown to India. IBM isn't solely to blame, though. Pressure to reduce labor costs by offshoring has forced a lot of high-tech industry out of the U.S. and U.K.

If you think about it, these conditions SHOULD incite MORE people to attend events like JavaOne. Some people believe that an incredibly well-trained base of experts and innovators can make it worthwhile for business to remain in the States or the U.K. Higher labor costs in the U.S. and U.K. can be justified by a more aggressive and innovative high-tech culture. Conferences like JavaOne are a breeding ground for new ideas, where the Enterprise Java, Open Source and business communities all come together. The extreme competition between some of the vendors can bring out the best in them and point the way to better products and services.

That said, there will be many familiar faces at the conference this year. Borland, Motorola, Oracle and SAP are all registered sponsors. Notables like Macromedia, Nokia, Apple, Compuware, Intel, BEA and Novell are listed as co-sponsors. Combine that with a barrage of service, software and hardware providers and a near-constant stream of dedicated (and sometimes hungry) J2EE developers and business leaders and you've created the perfect conditions for technological and business innovation.

Sun has even added a large cyber café and lounge to the floor plan. This occupies some space the vendors used to fill, but more caffiene at a tech convention is always always a good thing. Attendees should bring extra cash for lattés, running shoes and a strong calcium supplement if they want to stay on top of their game. Brown shirts are also higly recommended.

One final difference from last year is that IBM will not be running a booth to sponsor the event. Maybe there's something to that SCO suit after all.

Naaah. We didn't think so either. µ


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