Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Friday 19/03/2004You'll have feasted on our CeBIT coverage already, sent back single-handed by our intrepid one-man expeditionary force, Graeme Wearden. Of course, not everything makes it through our rigorous editorial process, so there wasn't room to tell you about Sony's heavily plugged press conference.

Friday 19/03/2004
You'll have feasted on our CeBIT coverage already, sent back single-handed by our intrepid one-man expeditionary force, Graeme Wearden. Of course, not everything makes it through our rigorous editorial process, so there wasn't room to tell you about Sony's heavily plugged press conference.

Now here is a company so far in advance of the times it has a fab new QRIO robot. It senses its surroundings! Aieeee! It is 60cm tall! Flee from Girant Roboto! It stands up when you push it, or can fall over gracefully on command! Professor! The army is useless against its power! It wants to play football! Actually, with that skill set it's probably already on its way to Anfield. It's certainly capable of dancing with chancellors  although the first robot-friendly budget is still some way back.

Not content with wowing the world with a robot called Queerio, Sony enlivened its press conference with tales of massive convergence, wireless wonders and other high-tech wonders. Unfortunately, this didn't stretch to the back-up press materials, which were only obtainable on a trestle table positioned at the foot of the escalators leading to the conference. The result, reports Wearden, was queues worthy of a Soviet supermarket when the cabbages came in, with scrums breaking out as those hardy souls who'd fought their way through for the press releases had to battle back out to get to the stairs. Every so often, the weaker members of the pack fell in combat, their battered corpses efficiently levitated up to the next floor and dumped in a neat pile at the head of the escalators together with their grave goods of shattered laptops and hideously ripped promotional cagoules. I made that bit up.

More press conference fun came courtesy of O2, which had a good tale to tell about rising from the chains of BT management like a post-spinach Popeye. The UK hacks felt very special: the UK head of communications fully realised the importance of the event and decided to spend it touring O2's own stand instead, well out of reach of impertinent questions like "why have you launched 3G in Germany and not at home?" Answering those was a task that fell to a German spokesperson (actually, Graeme's notes here say "slim leggy blonde woman", but I don't think we need to know that) – but alas, any answer she made is not recorded. And that bit about throwing off the shackles of BT mismanagement? Spoken with some feeling by heroic CEO Peter Erskine: bet there are some red faces among those who used to manage Cellnet and BT Mobile before the float. We'll have to ask the bloke who was in charge back then – hm, some cat called Peter Erskine.

Other than that, it was a superbly organised event and Graeme most certainly didn't engage in the traditional post-show pursuit of drinking heavily with our Continental comrades. The good burghers of Hannover can sleep soundly in their beds until this time next year.