Will Open Spaces Will Greet Cebit Show Attendees

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Space isn't something you'd expect to find inside the world's biggest IT show, but visitors to this year's Cebit in Hanover, Germany, will find lots of it in some of the traditionally busiest halls.

A walk on Tuesday around some of the halls that make up Cebit revealed large open spaces in places where companies are usually hawking their latest products and attracting visitors with stage shows and displays.

Coming on the heels of headlines about the decline of Cebit, the open spaces in exhibit halls will do little to reassure attendees about Cebit's future.

The event's image problems began with the withdrawal from the show of several major vendors including cell-phone makers Motorola Inc. and Nokia Corp. and it looks likely that other large companies may follow in the future. Staff at the booth of Japan's Sharp Corp. were busy setting up equipment on Tuesday and most wore jackets that carried a simple message in Japanese on the back: "sayonara Cebit," or "goodbye Cebit."

Show organizers, Deutsche Messe AG, have already begun acting to shore up the event and earlier this year announced a "restructuring" that will cut Cebit 2008 to six days from this year's seven-day event and start on Tuesday instead of Thursday.

This year's show, which kicks off Thursday, will include about 6,000 exhibitors occupying around 280,000 square meters of floor space, the organizers said. That's down about 200 exhibitors occupying just over 300,000 square meters in 2006. As a result, three of the 26 halls that have hosted Cebit in the past are closed this year.

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