You wouldn’t call IfraExpo a depression-free zone … but at least negativity in Amsterdam appears to be limited to only one of the three-and-a-half RAI halls.
And even in the heavy-metal area, opinions are divided on the impact of current economic uncertainty.
At KBA – already shaken by a DRUPA at which it signed press orders only to find they could not be financed – Klaus Bolza-Schünemann reported that while no projects had been cancelled, most had been postponed … by period varying from four-to-six weeks to two years.
With no press conference arranged, Goss International has been avoiding questions about prospects for 2009, but is understood also to be expecting a double-figure slowdown.
Upbeat as ever, however – except on the subject of the newly-independent company’s stock exchange float – manroland chairman Gerd Finkbeiner sees the economic situation as an opportunity … for itself and for its customers. A new automated press series, initially based on the Colorman, is being introduced as a packaged solution to current publishing needs. At the same time, the company is set to abandon the Colorman’s ten-cylinder format in order to achieve a lower overall height and improved access for automation.
IfraExpo is a talking shop amid a city of what are euphemistically-named ‘coffee shops’ (and smoking tobacco is, I’m told, illegal).
There’s little or enough hardware among the stands of more than 300 exhibitors – exceptions being a Tensor tower and Screen’s digital inkjet press – and it’s fair to say that a multitude of press and postpress projects are still under discussion. But everyone in that area appears to be reconciled to a delay before intentions are turned to action.
Contrast that however, with those halls focused on online, advertising, mobile and every other form of digital publishing … and the pace is more frenzied.
I have yet to meet an Australian who is here as a customer – the nearest being a consultant from New Zealand. But probably a dozen are here on behalf of vendors, among them a four-strong team from Melbourne-based APS (supporting Roxen and Brainworks), and exhibitors including AdLizard and Serendipity Software.
And they’re rushed off their feet: Terry Flynn of APS is upbeat about the way business is developing, both at home and overseas and a News Limited invitation for expressions of interest is also a talking point.
The show, which runs from Monday to Thursday is expected to draw about 10,000 delegates … and Finkbeiner may be right in asserting that they’re not here to mope about the economy. There’s an opportunity, all right, and on aggregate, no shortage of customers with live projects still going ahead all over the world.