ACN takes a look at the highlights in new software and hardware from the biggest IT exhibition in the Middle East, in our GITEX roundup.

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By  Duncan MacRae Published  December 5, 2006

|~|gitex-93-200.jpg|~|Oracle: The vendor had a major presence at GITEX through its partner stands.|~|Billed as the most important gateway to the Middle East market, GITEX 2006 did not disappoint. There was never really any doubt. Over the years, the exhibition has built itself a formidable reputation and is safely among the top three IT and telecoms exhibitions in the world, in both scale and influence.

Kicking off on November 18, at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC), GITEX, with the new GULFCOMMS hall, recorded spectacular double-digit growth across all show parameters, from increased exhibitors to larger country representation.

The event proved to be the ideal time and place for companies to showcase and even launch, some new and exciting technologies, as well as reveal company strategies.
Another hardware specialist, HP's personal systems group (PSG) put in a stellar performance, according to Anil Gandhi, general manager of HP PSG in the Middle East.

"The interest on the stand was amazing. It was packed all time and I think that this really reflects HP's standing in the region and the huge demand that exists for HP solutions," said Gandhi.

From the PSG perspective, Gandhi believes that HP's 'The Computer is Personal Again' campaign is resonating well with consumers in the Middle East.

"I would say that this campaign has been a great success," he said. "It is focusing on the fact that individuals have a personal relationship with their computer, which is unique to each user. Our goal at HP is to respond to that and ensure that the computer is a more powerful personal tool. I think it is working and the early word from GITEX Shopper is that we are outselling all our rivals."

If you were looking to identify a dominant theme from this year's GITEX show then it's a fair bet that mobile PCs would be in the running. The industry's leading hardware vendors were all out in force to showcase the latest notebook models that hold the key to their fortunes in 2007.

But behind the wide smiles and glitzy exhibition stands resided the pressure of keeping pace with a fast-moving sector and establishing the channels that guarantee ongoing growth. Notebook resellers looking to make additional income beyond the box need to consider selling complementary products, such as web cams, external storage devices and software, alongside the notebook. “A smart reseller is able to sell the features of the notebook which will solve business problems and it will be able to basically sell the customer things which add value to the product and the experience," said Gandhi.

Canon Middle East marked its presence by launching not one, but a staggering 50 new consumer imaging and business solutions at GITEX, including what the company claims is the world's smallest camcorder in the HV-10E.

The HDV1080i was being promoted alongside products such as the D-SLR-EOS 400D camera and its Compact Photo Printer Selphy ES1, in addition to new lines of colour photocopiers, scanners and A3+ photo printers.

Returning for its eighth GITEX appearance, the company hopes to become the number one imaging solutions brand in the Middle East in 2007.

"The Middle East offers a very unique market for the technology sector, its statistics, together with its economic, political and social reforms. 50% of the population is aged under 30 and offers high disposable incomes," according to Mohamed Salama, marketing manager, Canon Middle East.
||**|||~||~||~|On the software side of things, Symantec was driving home the compliance message to Middle East customers, explaining why it is such an important topic for organisations to consider.

Ruth Bowen, head of Symantec's EMEA compliance team, said: "Compliance is now a very important topic for all organisations. In a recent security survey by Ernst & Young, 80% of those that had invested in compliance solutions also said that they had much better IT security as a result."

Symantec's IT compliance solutions offer customers proactive policy enforcement plus automated archiving and data retention, part of the vendor's three-pronged approach to compliance, which involves defining, controlling and governing the IT environment.

Another big player in the market, Adobe, was celebrating its 15th consecutive appearance at GITEX with the launch of Arabic versions of its Adobe 8 and Flex software packages. The company also ran a series of professional seminars during GITEX demonstrating the key features of the new products.

Adobe Middle East channel manager Jacob Alex said the Middle East market is becoming increasingly important. "Our business is growing at an average rate of 50% year-on-year in the Middle East," he said.

"We are in the process of implementing a three-year commercial plan for the region, and we recently opened a new office in Dubai with a view to providing customised services to the local market," Alex added.

Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated announcements came from Microsoft Gulf as the software behemoth launched Windows Vista, the 2007 Office System and Exchange Server 2007 in the region.

"Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office system are among Microsoft's most significant product innovations, representing years of research and development," said Ali Faramawy, VP Microsoft Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

"These products will help businesses overcome the challenges of our increasingly information-saturated world, enhancing the way people collaborate, communicate, protect and manage content, and find, use and share information."
Customers also flocked to more than 1,300 other exhibitor stands to find out more about the latest IT developments and offerings.

According to international market research firm IDC, the Middle East ICT spend will hit a whopping US$16.8 billion by 2010 - up from just US$8.4 billion in 2005 - so it is fair to say that GITEX is only going to get bigger and better in the years to come.

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