CeBIT to focus on handhelds, Net connectivity
(IDG) -- Handheld computers, smart phones, and other Net-connected devices are expected to make big news during this year's mammoth CeBIT 99, in Hanover, Germany.
According to industry insiders, vendors supporting the Linux operating system are also likely to share the spotlight at the show, which will take place March 18 to 24.
More than 650,000 technology enthusiasts and professionals are expected to descend on Hanover's Messe, or fairground, making the show about three times bigger -- in terms of attendance -- than Comdex, the biggest computer trade show in the United States.
Some 7,500 exhibitors will cover 1.27 million square feet of floor space. Exhibitors will show products and services covering a wide range of technology, including telecommunications, network computing, automatic data collection, smart-card technology, banking technology, software, consulting, and services, as well as in-progress research.
In addition to hardware and software companies, telecommunications carriers will be well represented. Germany's Deutsche Telekom, its many national competitors, and carriers from all over Europe will be participating at CeBIT.
With such a critical mass of IT companies and carriers converging on one show, the focus is expected to be on advanced mobile communications, broadband networks, and IP-based telephony.
For example, companies including Nokia, Compaq, and Toshiba will release new models of handheld devices and smart phones, said Ruediger Spies, European program director for market research company Meta Group, based in Munich.
Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash., will highlight a wide variety of palm-size and handheld devices based on its Windows CE operating system, to be shown by 10 Microsoft partners. Users will also be able to look at an early version of Windows 2000, formerly code-named Windows NT 5.0. Microsoft will have a special center dedicated to resellers, OEMs, and the prevention of software piracy.
In addition, a raft of new products and services for high-speed Internet access is expected to be announced at CeBIT, according to the ADSL Forum, which represents 300 companies involved in Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) technology.
German IT powerhouse Siemens, in Berlin, has announced it will be launching a number of telephony and networking products, including an Internet server, dubbed Hicom Xpress TIS, that sends data, fax, and voice transmissions over an IP network.
Siemens also will demonstrate a household network gateway system, which it calls a Residential Gateway, that allows users to remotely control appliances from their telephones. In addition, the German vendor will showcase a new technology called Fingertip, a biometric security system.
Nortel Networks, of Mississauga, Ontario, will launch new networking products that are expected to include a packet-telephony switch.
In the area of Internet commerce, Software AG, of Darmstadt, Germany, plans to unveil at the show a new server based on Extensible Mark-up Language (XML), designed to facilitate business-to-business transactions.
Other cutting-edge, I-commerce products on display will include the upcoming Microwave Bank from NCR of Dayton, Ohio. The product is a microwave oven with an Internet-connected computer integrated into it that allows consumers to do online banking, shopping, and e-mail from their kitchens with the help of an LCD touch screen in the oven's door, according to the company.
Along with Net connectivity and handheld devices, the other big stories at the show will include support for the Linux operating system and year-2000 fixes, said Meta Group's Spies.
Germany's SAP, of Walldorf, for instance, will echo its announcement made this week of support for Linux in its R/3 enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.
The German vendor will also be showing an upgrade for R/3, which the company has promised will make its software easier to use.
SAP's main ERP competitor, Dutch-American software vendor Baan, of Barneveld, Netherlands, is bundling its BaanSeries ERP products with front- and back-office software, and will be showing what it calls operations management, corporate management, and customer management software that complement its flagship product.
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