Tuesday, April 26, 2005
The incredible shrinking Comex
Comex is the annual computers and telecoms exhibition here in Oman. It's basically a tiny, pale immitation of Gitex. I've been going to Comex every single year for the past ten years, and other than a demonstration of ADSL by Siemens 6 or 7 years ago, long before it became a standard, I've never experienced anything new.
My friends make fun of Comex by calling it Kotex, because just like the feminine sanitary towels every year it's advertised as being better and with more features but when you go to Comex the first thing that strikes you is how much smaller it is than the previous year. This year they spread out the stalls to fill the same amount of space, but it's quite evident that there are less exhibitors than last year.
There is no big news this year. The two biggest areas are taken by Oman Mobile and Nawras, and neither of them has anything major to show. Omantel announced their wi-fi service which still isn't entirely ready for launch so for the time being the service will be free. Oman Mobile announced a few services which will be "coming soon" such as Push to Talk, Push email (but not Blackberry), and an upgraded EDGE network. Loay announced that they are now Apple resellers and have tied up with a finance company to sell Apple computers on installments. Other than that, I can't recall anything new.
In the Shopper area, it's the same usual shops selling the same items. What's weird is that a lot of them are selling PCs, even branded ones like HP, without an operating system. They sell it just with a disk operating system and then it's up to you whether you want to go buy an original licensed Windows XP or a pirated one.
As usual, I couldn't find a single stall that had a credit/debit card POS machine. All of them operate on cash only. I wanted to buy an iPod Shuffle 1GB, which goes for RO. 67 at the Mac Centre stall, but I didn't have the cash on me and I couldn't be bothered to go withdraw cash and come back. I'm surprised because the first time I went to Gitex in Dubai, which was way back in 1998, most stalls already had POS machines. If you ask the shops they'll give you a million reasons including the standard "our margins are so thin, why give an additional 3% of them to the bank?" I guess somethings will never change. In Oman, we have dinosaurs selling computers.