My Most Memorable Trade Show

Wireless Japan 2008

Here’s a younger and thinner me with hair outside Tokyo Big Sight, posing in front of a sign for the 2008 Wireless Japan Trade Show. It was no CES or Mobile World Congress even, but of the few such events I’ve attended it’s definitely the one I remember the most.

I don’t generally enjoy trade shows. For me they’re too much like a big house party — the most popular attendees are all but inaccessible and you spend most of your time avoiding people you don’t like. I’ve much preferred the more intimate product launches that I’ve been to with Howard, where you don’t have to yell to be heard and you’re not comparing name badges to see who’s the most important person in the room.

So while I’ll be reporting on the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show I’ll be doing it from the comfort of my own home. But right now, let’s set the wayback machine to July, 2008 and our clocks to Japan Standard Time.

Context

To set the stage a bit, the iPhone 3G had just launched in Tokyo a few weeks before I arrived there, with over a thousand people lining up in Harajuku to get one. But there was no Apple presence at Wireless Japan; from everything I saw their traditional keitai were still very much in vogue.

Docomodake

To highlight the family plans that they offer Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo created an entire family of spokesfungi for their advertising campaigns. They are known and loved internationally as Docomodake.

DoCoMo had a display at their booth with each member of the Docomodake family as phone charms. The soft, plush material covering their butts was for wiping the screen of your keitai. How do I know this? Because I have one, of course!

BlackBerry (?!!)

BlackBerry for Japan

For some reason the biggest hit of the show was this BlackBerry 8707h, launched on DoCoMo later that summer. I imagined this rep was having a good laugh over how much attention the fugly beast was getting, considering that Japanese handsets could do so much more.

I Don’t Even

Transformer Phone

Even with all the hubbub I was done with Wireless Expo in about an hour. Far more interesting were the open-air display stands in Akihabara where I found, among other things, this. Stay crazy, Japan… we love you that way.

So yeah, I’m not really a trade show kind of guy. I’ll be keeping an eye on CES, though, and will report the best of what I see here. In the meantime, if you’ve a trade show experience that you’d like to share, let’s hear it!