Back in 1986 or so, I remember going to the CEBIT in Hannover with my father. The hottest technology then was probably a real clunky large PC. All the flashy lights, the free give-aways and the exciting buzz at the annual fair probably laid part of the foundation for my interest in technology.
So this year, I went looking for that buzz once again. Expecting to find it at the large brands like Microsoft and IBM, the cloud providers like Google and Amazon and the hottest hardware vendors like Samsung, Apple and ehm… RIM. But at first I went looking in the wrong place. The real buzz was happening somewhere else. Somewhere smaller.
The stands of the large brands were swarmed with black suits and ties, generally not the best place to find disruptive innovation. The cloud guys were somewhere in the cloud, certainly not physically there in Hannover. (I really, really wanted to see the Pixel!) And the hardware dudes were just showing… well, hardware. Samsung was OK, but it was just like walking in a large electronics store (But I love the Samsung Galaxy Camera!) Apple and RIM weren’t even there.
So where was the real buzz? It wasn’t all over CEBIT, you had to look for it in a few small corners. A part of hall 16 for example, hosted CODE_n, a fascinating group of entrepreneurs mostly focusing on social alternative energy solutions. It was also buzzing in the small corridors of the Open Source Park in Hall 6 (even though I missed the open source hardware guys, like Ultimaker). Both places were fun to be at, and as such, contrasted harshly with the over sized and bombastic bases of IBM, Microsoft and SAP, who apparently haven’t heard yet that we’re in an economic downturn at the moment.
So I did find what I was looking for at CEBIT. The buzz was still there. But I also got the feeling that the real new stuff is on show somewhere else. Online. And I could have skipped the long (but comfortable) train trip to Hannover. By searching online. But if I had done that, I would have missed seeing what I think will determine the future of CEBIT in the coming years. Hall 23 and 18 were loaded with teenagers playing games. The world championship of League Legends, a game that I fail to understand. Even after watching these professional game heroes for an hour, in awe.
But I saw that gaming will be the buzz of the future of technology.