by Jim Bennett (November 18,1999)
Pat Meier's 14th edition of the media luncheon and exhibitor showcase, Lunch@Pieros, amplified Comdex 99 key technology themes of software, e-commerce and ease of use. Evolving software platforms have always been important, but this year, Linux has shown tremendous growth.
The following sponsors exhibited products at the Lunch @ Piero's event:
Macmillan Computer Publishers have had great success with their extensive lineup of Linux publications by capturing 52% of the exploding Linux operating systems market according to PC Data. They are now the number ONE Linux book publisher and have six of the top ten Linux titles. Some of these authors who attended this Lunch@Pieros event.
Linux guru, Bill Ball discussed his fast selling release, Linux Unleashed 4th Edition, and the growth of the Linux operating system. Erick Ratcliffe presented his newest book, Special Edition Using Caldera Open Linux and was pleased that the Linux Expo had been expanded for Fall Comdex 99. There was also a Linux Expo at Comdex Spring in Chicago where Linus Torvalds was the keynote speaker - see Reviews OnLine article. Later in the week, the first book to address Linux security issues, Maximum Linux Security, was presented by an anonymous author, a former hacker convicted of cracking ATM security codes in the late 1980's.
The Que and Sams groups focused on some of the best applications books such as Teach Yourself Samba in 24 Hours and the massive Special Edition Using Star Office. This book should be popular since Sun CEO Scott McNealy said after Wednesday's keynote that they would aggressively promote Star by giving it away free.
Throughout the week, other PC titles were showcased - Scott Mueller's excellent "Upgrading and Repairing PC's" which has sold over 1.7 million copies worldwide. Also presented were Que's By Example Series and Sam's Concise Guides. Woody Leonhard was on hand to discuss issues and talk about his featured book, Special Edition Using Microsoft Office 2000.
Macmillan also demonstrated their recently launched information technology portal, Inform IT which delivers the Internet's largest compilation of information, technology, reference, training, news and opinion to IT users worldwide. Macmillan made informative and sustained impressions throughout the week since they seem to be positioning themselves as a key player in the IT industry with excellent publications, well into the next century.
E-commerce is rapidly expanding (over $7.9 billion) and Creative Good of New York thinks it can be done much better worth. In their "Holiday 99 E-Commerce Report" they feel that many online retailers spend record amounts of money to drive consumers to their sites, but do little to create a favorable, onsite experience. Their report focuses on the tactical methods that firms can use to build better on-line brand awareness and increase customer retention. Every online business should consider reading this report on their web site.
Uniloc PC Preload, Inc.
This company approaches software distribution from a slightly different tact. Instead of only sending packages of software to consumers, Uniloc technology lets consumers "test drive" software from independent software vendors and OEMs, over the Internet, before making a final purchase. Customers can then evaluate the software, for a limited time, before selecting the retailer they wish to purchase the software from, via an on-line listing. The transaction is then completed online and the delivery of the actual software "package" is completed through conventional means. The advantage to retailers is that the number of software titles of questionable value in inventory is reduced and consumers get to freely try many software packages and buy only the ones that work well for them. The consumer continues to have purchase options, including where they buy software and what price they pay, using this innovative approach. Since the initially downloaded software is "real", a unlock code is provided at the time of payment, so that they can continue using the software (which would expire without this code) while waiting for the actual software "box".
Enfish Technology, Inc.
Ease of use, more complex systems and "info-glut" frequently work against each other. Enfish's first offerings filled a market niche by making information easier to use.
The sophistication of technology is moving beyond the original concept of using computers to simply mimic the physical world of folders and files. Enfish focuses on the delivery of information and the development of innovative technologies that will remove barriers to information by accommodating differences in working habits and anticipating the varying needs of each individual user.
During my briefing, the Enfish representative advised me that a blend of technology and services will be targeted to seamlessly integrate Internet information, personal email, files and local information into one convenient place. The product will be called Enfish OneSpace and is scheduled for release during the first quarter of 2000.
Flat panel monitors continue to evolve to meet business and professional needs. The Nokia 800 PRO+ is an 18 inch Super TFT flat panel monitor that is designed to work with both analog and digital inputs simultaneously. This modern looking display features an ultra slim chassis and has a bezel only 3.1 inches deep and weighs less than 21 pounds.
First product impressions draw the eye to a bright, clean picture with very good contrast and detail. An intuitive user interface make picture adjustments and on screen navigation quick and easy. The monitor picture was huge, but didn't look so bulky because it was a flat panel.
The DP6850 desktop projector was introduced this week for the full-featured, mid-range data and video market. Its compact size and manageable 13 pound weight and clear XGA (1024X768) resolution results in a bright, easy to view image.
This $6,000 product has a 3 to 1 motorized zoom lens, multiple computer and multiple video inputs required by the market's training centers, conference rooms and board rooms.
The Tektronix Phaser solid ink and laser color printers were head turners and among my show favorites at Comdex 98.
These units are continually being improved and up graded for 1999 and have proven to be durable and cost effective units according to some LA customers I contacted.
Six years ago, Xerox had a handful of digital products at Comdex. Today it's showcasing over 40 digital products and growing at their booth on the main floor of Comdex. At the Lunch@Pieros event, the $349 WorkCentre XK35C was featured. It produces photographic quality color prints and can also function as a color copier and scanner as well. Read our review of the Xerox XK35C.
Acquisition of Tektronix's printer business for $950 million, indicates Xerox is going to be a challenger (30% market share) to HP's (Hewlett Packard) market domination.
More coverage of the Lunch@Piero's event.
Photographs Copyright © 1999 Rick Smith
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