Last week, the MDM East 2017 conference was held at the Jacob Javitz center in NYC. It seems as if the number of people at this conference goes down every year and the cost (including staying in the city) goes up. Once again, though, it is a good place to spend a day or two meeting up with customers and vendors, but I have to wonder about the cost of actually exhibiting. On one hand, there has to be a critical mass of vendors or there is no show. I am sure many of the companies really do well at this show, but laser manufacturers and service providers may not.
One long-time laser exhibitor told me they did not even go to the booth selection for next year and the chances of them coming back were very small. In fact, a few weeks before the exhibition, the show management was calling companies and offering steep discounts on booth space to any takers, so they were obviously not sold out by any means. One company, industry giant IPG Photonics, did take advantage of the 'cheap' booth space to exhibit at this venue for the first time ever. I was told it was one of the best shows of the year for them and they definitely intend to be there next year. Go figure.
The highlight of the show for many people, including Yours Truly, was the talk on Tuesday at noon by the Great and Powerful Woz—Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple. The lunch lines were deserted at noon and the hall was pretty much empty, except for those unfortunates low enough on the totem pole that had to staff the booths. Everyone else was in the auditorium, and it was a packed crowd with standing room only. Quite an interesting guy with a very unique perspective. Speaking of IPG Photonics, the rumors were floating last week about the possible acquisition of Innovative Laser Technologies (ILT) in Minneapolis, and it appears that this is now a reality—a $40 million reality! Are there any small private companies left out there?
I am off to the LASER World of PHOTONICS trade fair in Munich next week (the week of June 26, 2017) and will report on all the latest and greatest from there. Stop by the PennWell booth (Hall B3, booth 221) for a chat.
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