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Sunday, 25 March, 2001, 11:24 GMT
CeBIT: A digital fashion show
Glass PC
Glass is being used to attract PC customers.
BBC News' Andrew Godleman enjoys the glitz and glamour of technology marketing at CeBIT, the digital fashion show.

CeBIT is a very colourful fast moving show with a very European style.

Bernd Rützel of o3sis
Bernd Rützel of o3sis aims for profits this year.
There were personal computers in glass, in pink, with 3 screens and cinema sound, and there was an army of brightly coloured, strangely dressed youthful staff available to dance their socks off to promote it all.

Outside was wind and rain, but inside the weather realities weren't detracting from the business and technology ideas being promoted.

A mobile in the hand is worth two in the business plan

The German consumer, it is said, is ready to change their mobile ("Handy" in German) every 17 months.

Pink PC
New look PCs caught the eye at CeBIT.
So even if you showed them the best mobile in the world, it could be over a year before they were prepared to buy it.

With the realities of mobile phones lagging behind their makers' ambitions, I asked Bernd Rützel, chief executive of o3sis, a wireless application service provider, how software companies could avoid being affected by the trends in Telecoms business.

"We are really living out of the business we are doing, not on the investors investing money in the moment."

"We almost became already profitable last year, and we will certainly be profitable for this year."

Triple screen at CeBIT
When one or even two screens are not enough.
The company has done deals with phone service providers, including One2One in the UK.

They aren't waiting for phone networks to deliver on their 3G-style promises :

"We are in a very fast market here" said Mr Rützel.

"It's not about 3 year plans. It's even not about a 1 year plans. It's always a quarter plan and a very clear vision of the future."

From hand to mouth

Lernout & Hauspie, which produces translation software that supports human translators, alongside translation software and speech synthesis tools, also claimed that doing 'real' business was the antidote to the downmarket hype.

In-car computer that reads emails for you
A computer in the car will read emails for you.
L&H were exhibiting a cut down version of their software running on the Compaq iPAQ.

This device is highly visible at the show, and seemed to be a benchmark for innovation, even appearing as a dashboard addition for a BMW on one stand.

With the L&H software you could have it read out your day's appointments and your e-mails for you, in response to your voice commands.

This impressive demonstration is not yet available commercially, but it does give a hint of what may be possible now that handhelds are coming with more powerful processing capability.

Notable by their absence

Oracle are absent from this year's show aside from fleeting appearances on partner stands.

CeBIT jobs fair.
CeBIT is also a jobs fair for computer professionals.
Apparently a major stand is unnecessary because of a conference Oracle are holding in Berlin in the summer.

Other database giants such as Sybase and Informix were present as usual.

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