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The Digital Show ‘converges’ back to picture-taking

The Digital Show, to be held in the Melbourne Exhibition Centre, May 25 – 27, will have ‘bigger stands, but less of them‘ reflecting the decision by leading CE brands not to participate this year.

The Digital Show in Melbourne should appeal to retailers, professional photographers and keen enthusiasts.

The show’s organiser, the Imaging and Digital Entertainment Association (‘IDEA’ – formerly PICA) initially proposed that the annual photo industry exhibition and conference be expanded to play the role for ‘digital lifestyle’ companies and consumers that The Motor Show or The Boat Show play in their respective industries.

In short, the vision was to create a CES-like show for Australia, with revenues flowing back to the photo industry via IDEA. (For an extended outline of IDEA president Dave Marshall’s plans for a re-vamped annual show see this earlier article.)

However, many leading CE companies involved in digital imaging have declined to participate. The list of confirmed non-starters include Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, HP, LG and Apple. In addition, no players in the dynamic smartphone market will have a stand at The Digital Show, nor leading telecoms such as Tesltra or Optus.

A few smaller but significant companies more focussed on supplying photo retailers have also dropped out, including Adeal, Noritsu and JA Davey.

‘Adeal will not be attending the Digital Show in Melbourne. Our money is better spent promoting our brands and helping our customers to get sales at the store level,’ explained Adeal business director, Mark Cummins.

The annual show will feature most of the dedicated photo wholesalers, headed by camera brands such as Canon and Nikon as exhibitors, with, as has been the case in the recent past, dedicated photo retailers, pro photographers and photo enthusiasts rather than the broader digital lifestyle category representing the potential audience for the show.

IDEA chief executive officer, Paul Curtis, kindly provided Photo Counter an update on The Digital Show:

How are preparations for the show coming along?
Most of our major  exhibitors have greatly increased their stand sizes this year and they are planning a massive consumer education program on a brand by brand basis that is sure to do much for the overall  industry.

On the other hand, although we try to keep participation costs low, we do have some wholesalers who are struggling at the moment and will not be in a position to join us. So, in short, we will have bigger stands, but less of them.

The plan was to expand the annual photo industry show by recruiting CE ‘heavy-hitters’ such as Samsung and LG. How successful has IDEA been in bringing some new brands to the show?

The conference program has been extended to cover the entire digital lifestyle experience, but the support from CE companies as exhibitors is not what we had been led to expect. Indeed, if things have been tough these last few months in the imaging business, CE is looking worse! There are companies that have made losses that run into the billions of dollars, and it is easy to see why some cannot make it this year.

I don’t think it is a lack of will to participate. In Australia they are run by good people, but when the international markets are in such a mess and they are losing such huge sums a year, we can understand that they have all been ordered to cut back.

However, it is a shame that market promotion is the first thing to be cut as it begins a downward spiral. We hope the situation will improve over the coming months and they will be in a position to get behind the 2013 show in Sydney.

On the positive side, this is good for the promotion of imaging. The focus will be very much on photography and of course our aim is to ensure we get as big a share as we can of the consumers dollar  for our business.

Any other enhancements, developments or innovations?
Most exhibitors are planning to use the show to boost their brand identity with their consumers. We can expect to see educational sessions being held on many stands . Again, radio station 3AW will be broadcasting from the show floor, and visitors will be able to see the judging of the Canon Australian Professional Photographer of the Year Awards and view the large print gallery.

As originally outlined, this year the show was to have retailing from the stands – is that still the plan?
Actually it wasn’t the Association’s plan to have retailing from the stands. The thought was that as the organisers, we thought we shouldn’t be telling exhibitors what they can and cannot do. So if an exhibitor wants to sell products, it’s their decision. I understand that in many cases they are doing this within their own retailer support programs.

At a PMA/industry meeting last year Dave Marshall spoke about a goal (which he conceded might not be achieved in the first year) of attracting 50-60,000 people to The Digital Show. Realistically, what’s the attendance goal for consumers in 2012?
I think the goal is obtainable, but I don’t see it happening this year as we don’t have the breadth of exhibitors we had understood were going to be involved with this first event. I would be very happy if we can get up around the 30,000 one-time visitors  mark for this event.

When looking at our statistics, it has to be remembered that unlike many shows, we do not count multiple visits in and out of the show door and the figures we report are accurate. Last time in Melbourne, we were warned by security the crowds were so big that they were going to stop admission as the floor was too crowded. It’s a high class problem and according to security, show organisers normally report such attendances in the 35-40,000 range!

…Won’t the show still have great appeal to genuine photographic enthusiasts rather than ‘digital lifestylers’? If so, will the marketing pitch be focussed on that demographic? Good news for photo specialists?
Yes, our marketing pitch will very much reflect what is on show.

Do you think the ad campaign for The Digital Show will give the photo category a boost in the Victorian market?
According to our retail partners, the show is a major boost to retail trade in Melbourne. It is a golden opportunity to get consumers excited and spur them into action and grow our industry. The major Melbourne retailers have already held their first meeting and will again be heavily involved with the promotion of the event.


  1. Alan Alan March 29, 2012

    VERY disappointed to hear about the lack of attendance at the show by the ‘big’ guys.
    I thought that was the reason PICA took it all over – they were going to do great things, and show the industry how it is done.
    Could the problems be related to fairly late hiring of staff to market and manage the event? I heard they came on board Dec/Jan and did not hit the ground running.
    As a retailer, I’ve heard NOTHING about the show except that it is on.
    I’ve got all the info I need from PMA to register, book the air travel, and book the accommodation, and I am looking forward to it. But it disappoints me that the exhibits will be limited, and not include the big players.

  2. John Swainston John Swainston March 29, 2012

    Well I think our industry show is what we make it!

    Many of us, and that includes Maxwell, relish the thought of a greater share of voice, and being able to actively promote photography to the always- wonderful audiences that Melbourne delivers. So whether you are in retail, wholesale or a working professional, be assured that 90% of the camera market IS there. And 2 of the 3 biggest accessory vendors are there. The Canon AIPP APPA’s will be bigger and better than ever.

    Of course the reality of a global meltdown for CE manufacturers means it’s impossible to get them on board for now. But if you look at the PMA convention, strongly subsidized by IDEA and the new energy of Katherine Singson, I’d argue it’s the strongest keynote line ever on convergence in Australia. 2 concentrated days could really set some forward thinking retailers on some exciting new directions. And for consumers – well,

    I am very, very confident that Nikon, Canon, Olympus, and Pentax-Ricoh, to name but 4, will be mobbed. Because what they are showing will be compelling and exciting. Just as we at Maxwell will be with some world-release bags from Lowepro and the first showing of Tamron’s groundbreaking new stabilized 24-70 f2.8 pro-sumer lens.

    And that’s what a great show should be all about: Innovation, Passion and Creativity.

    So come on down. We’ll see you all there ☺

  3. Pete Pete March 30, 2012

    I don’t think that money is the reason in all cases and if I were a wholesaler declining to attend I would be a little offended by the comments above. I don’t think Apple are struggling for example!

    But John is right, that just gives the exhibitors who are there greater exposure.

  4. John Swainston John Swainston March 30, 2012

    Pete: You are right. With $100B in cash, money is not the issue with Apple. It’s a long-standing policy not to do trade shows. But their products will be in use throughout our show, showing the latest software apps. I was specifically referring to CE manufacturers pressured by falling prices in panel and other AV technologies.

  5. Phil G Phil G April 13, 2012

    I am not surprised that the big guys are not coming, the disappointment is for the public when they come expecting the see all of the latest gear. Anyone that thought that Dave M could make it happen by getting rid of THE man, John Bourne and his organisation, who made it happen in the last couple of years in difficult times, is now being proved wrong in his decision. Will he stand down?

    Many of us don’t come to see and find out about the latest hardware we can find that on the net. We come to network with some of the brightest in the industry sharing ideas and opportunities. The DIMA Day is the best I have seen for years, worth the trip alone! A visit down “blood alley” to see some of Australia’s best is an added bonus.

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