CeBIT Fair Offers View Of High-Tech Future

Market is being driven by insatiable consumer demand for all-in-one features.

The world's biggest high-tech fair opened its doors on March 15 in Hanover, Germany, showcasing the must-have computer, telecommunications and consumer electronics products of the future. This year's CeBIT, running to March 21, has unfurled the banner "Join the vision" and drawn more than 6,000 exhibitors from 77 countries. More than 430,000 guests are expected.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel kicked off the event March 14 with a call for new technology firms to continue leading the way in Europe's biggest economy. "Your sector should remain the engine of innovation for Germany," she said.

Merkel was joined by Patricia Russo, chief executive of French-U.S. telecommunications equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent. Russo said the communications market was being driven by insatiable consumer demand for all-in-one features. "(Users) want the ability to watch their favorite TV program, send instant messages to their friends about the show's latest plot twist and answer a call from their daughter when she needs to be picked up from basketball practice -- all at the same time, and on the same device of their choosing," she said.

The European Information Technology Observatory has forecast a 2.9% boost in industry turnover to 668 billion euros (US$883 billion) this year, while the global market weighs in at about $2.6 trillion.

This year's CeBIT is to throw the spotlight on new advances in phoning on the Internet, mobile high-speed online connections, next-generation DVD players and handheld navigators.

And the event would not be the CeBIT without its parade of quirky gadgets and innovations that might, or might not, conquer the world. Techies were eagerly awaiting traditional German lederhosen with a built-in cellular phone, a BMW sports car that can talk and listen, a mobile phone that doubles as a pillow and a bathroom mirror that can give current stock quotes.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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