HP cancels worldwide developer show

Hewlett-Packard Co. has pulled the plug on its worldwide developer conference scheduled to take place in Las Vegas at the end of this month.

The company decided to postpone its Invent 2002 conference after it began to hear from customers that they couldn’t afford to attend because of the tough economic times, according to information at the conference’s Web site.

Delaying the four-day conference also gives HP more time before it has to update customers on future product plans in light of its planned merger with Compaq Computer Corp. The company has said it will kill off some overlapping products if the merger goes ahead, but it hasn’t said yet which ones will get the axe.

“While they found the content compelling, in light of current market and business conditions, many (customers) tell us it is difficult to commit the people and financial resources they would like to attend remotely located multi-day events,” the company said at the Invent 2002 Web site.

“The postponement of this event will enable us to provide better details on merged HP and Compaq technologies,” HP continued.

The event had been due to kick off May 28 at the Las Vegas Hilton. While HP said it had postponed the conference, it didn’t provide a new start date. Instead, it said it would “modify the format” of the conference to offer “Web-based and regional events,” including Webcasts of planned seminars. HP officials weren’t immediately available to offer further comment.

It also wasn’t clear when the decision to cancel had been made. Registration had been priced at US$995, or $1,095 on-site.

HP had planned to use the conference to bring thousands of developers as well as industry partners up to speed on its latest products and technologies. More than 50 breakout sessions had been planned addressing emerging areas like mobile applications, wireless devices and Web services.

One of the concerns raised about HP’s planned acquisition of Compaq has been that the deal would distract HP from its business, noted Dwight Davis, an analyst at Boston-based Summit Stategies Inc. The company has continued to launch new products since the merger was announced, but putting off its developer conference isn’t good news, he said.

“To the degree that it has to be heads-down and working on the particulars of the merger, it does run the risk of losing the close connection with its customer base,” he said.

The company had been pitching the event as one that developers couldn’t afford to miss.

“If you’re a developer and want to do your job more effectively, maintain a competitive edge, help catapult your company’s solutions forward, or just stop eating so darn much cold pizza – then you need be at this conference,” the company said in marketing materials for the event.