SMTAI is over and done. It was, in my opinion, a disappointment. While several companies remain on travel lockdown, the location — San Diego — was central to large numbers of designers and assemblers, precious few of whom bothered to make the (short) drive.
I don’t have the numbers from the SMTA yet, but my sense is the attendance for the technical conference was pretty good. But there was very little traffic on the exhibition floor, a result that mirrored IPC Midwest a few weeks earlier.
We can blame the economy. We can blame the layoffs. We can blame a lot of things. But the industry seers — also known as the media — have been saying for years there are too many shows. With Electronics New England, Electronics West, SMTA Atlanta, the myriad Design2Part shows, IPC Apex, Assembly Technology Expo, IPC Midwest, PCB West, and SMTAI, among many others, the regionalization — and bastardization — is effectively complete. There is simply no reason for a potential attendee to get excited about an event, because when you are practically showered with opportunities, the impact is dramatically lessened. (As an aside, none of this should be laid at the feet of the SMTA staff. They worked their hearts out to put on a top-notch technical conference and to this observer’s eye everything was beautifully executed. They deserved better.)
The show producers of these events are going to have to look hard at their bank accounts and reconsider their missions. While I don’t expect the for-profit companies (of which Circuits Assembly’s parent company, UP Media Group, is one) to change their approach, it’s high time the trade associations get together and get an agreement done that puts some sanity back into the trade show calendar.
Put the egos and greed aside, and get it done.