In Hanover, with a hi-tech hangover

Steve Homer reports from CeBIT, the mother of all IT trade shows

CeBIT, the world's largest communications and computing get-together, taking place in Hanover, Germany, is a monster. With attendance topping 110,000 on its busiest day, it can make a grown man fear for his sanity.

Perhaps it is the 24 halls, perhaps it is the fact that you have to walk over a mile to get from one side of the show to the other, or maybe it is the fact that you know somewhere, on one of those 6,855 stands, is the "thing" you have been searching for - if only you could find it.

But this year has proved to be a rather vintage CeBIT. Interesting products, entertaining fights and good ideas have abounded. Intel was a name that kept coming up. First, the company teamed us with Microsoft to announce that its efforts to kill off the Network Computer (NC) were hotting up. The NC is a very simplified PC that has to be attached to a server to store any real hard work. Microsoft and Intel hate the NC as it does not use their technology.

At CeBIT, they announced the final specification for their counter punch, the imaginatively named NetPC. Cynics with long memories remembered an IBM strategy of the Seventies called FUD - standing for fear, uncertainty and doubt. Many thought Intel/Microsoft were up to a little Fudding this CeBIT.

However, the NC camp, Sun, Oracle and the rest, have failed to make any significant splash at CeBIT. So maybe the NC will wither and die on its own. It is too early to say, but the lack of any coherent NC message should worry its backers.

The second place Intel popped up was in a potential new data service. You can already get Web pages delivered by satellite. It might sound weird, but it is a good idea. You can download Web pages into your PC up to 20 times normal speed.

Hughes Olivetti Telecom showed its DirecPC service at the show. This runs on a Eutelsat satellite. At CeBIT, Intel announced it was tying up with SES, the outrageously profitable Luxembourg owners of the Astra satellites. With Astra best known in this country for delivering BSkyB into our homes, it looked a somewhat weird outing for Intel.

"The biggest thing limiting the PC market today is the lack of bandwidth," said Avram Miller, Intel's director of corporate business development. He believes that with high-speed connections, more consumers will enjoy using the Internet, hence the leap to satellites.

The other place Intel cropped up was somewhere it might not have wanted to. Intel holds a hugely dominant share of the PC chip market. But companies like AMD, Digital Semiconductors and Cyrix have all had a good go at Intel during the show and launched several new chips - many including more capabilities than Intel's Pentium. The competitors do not believe Intel can have things its own way for ever. Nor do its customers. Big chip consumers like Compaq, are finally starting to use the better Pentium clones.

But as chips change so do the devices they are used in. Sharp showed a palmtop computer with a digital camera attachment (digital photography has finally taken off at this CeBIT). Sharp also has an Internet/GSM phone personal communicator, developed with Alcatel, that it will launch the autumn. This market was started last year by Nokia with its clever, but bulky, Communicator. The Sharp communicator is far more practical, the same size as a standard GSM phone. Look out for more of these pocket communication devices later this year.

In fact, the mobile telephone is beginning to become unrecognisable. There are phones that you can wear in your ear, solar-powered phones, phones that include Internet access on a tiny screen, phones that can be used anywhere in the world and even phones that can understand what you are saying. This last innovation, voice recognition, could be a life- saver for many a befuddled mobile user.

Also, DVD, the new disc format that will eventually replace videos and CD-Roms failed to arrive. New rewritable CD-Roms were launched. There were lots of different ways of delivering Internet to your TV, Panasonic launched a 24 speed CD-Rom and much more.

But probably the best news this year has been CeBIT itself. Though everyone moans about it being too big and the fact that the nearest available hotel room is often a 20-minute helicopter ride away, there is still a real sense of optimism. The computing and communications industries feel to be in good shape.

You could dash over this afternoon and enjoy the last day at CeBIT. The bad news is you might still have to look in Madrid for that elusive hotel roomn

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Account Manager, Spanish, London Bridge

£30,000 + 20K Commssion: Charter Selection: This rapidly expanding organisatio...

Account Manager, Spanish, London Bridge

£30,000 + 20K Commssion: Charter Selection: This rapidly expanding organisatio...

Account Manager, London Bridge

£30,000 + 20K Commssion: Charter Selection: This rapidly expanding organisatio...

Content Manager - Central London

£35000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Content Manager - Central...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies