Internet, wireless drive top themes for CeBIT ’01

Visitors to the massive IT and telecommunications trade fair CeBIT, which opens next week in Germany, are particularly interested in Internet and wireless telecommunications technologies, according to one survey. But if they’re expecting major breakthroughs, they might be disappointed, observers say.

Nonetheless, as they do every year, companies are highlighting their flashiest new gadgets at the show.

“It’s the trade show to be at in Europe,” said analyst Ben Donnelly of market research firm Frost & Sullivan Inc. “But I’m not sure any major news is going to happen this year.”

He added that the mood in the IT industry is generally subdued, in part due to bad economic times, but that companies feel obligated to have a presence at the fair.

Analyst Carsten Schmidt of Forrester Research BV agreed. “I don’t think there will be many surprises … I think that mobile will be a hot topic; I assume that with the dot-com bust, you’ll probably have a shift more toward the mobile market.”

Among prospective visitors to the fair, high-speed Internet access topped the list of hot topics; it was cited by 61 percent of people surveyed by the German consulting firm Mummert + Partner AG. Next came online security, named by 59 percent of respondents; followed by UMTS (universal mobile telecommunications system), at 54 percent; mobile commerce at 49 percent; and wireless networks at 40 percent.

The German city of Hanover is hunkering down for the annual swarm of hundreds of thousands of IT professionals and technology buffs to CeBIT, which takes place this year from March 22 to 28. The event is the world’s largest trade fair, according to its organizer Deutsche Messe AG.

It’s the 15th year that CeBIT – officially “Welt-Centrum f