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LinuxWorld becomes 2d tech trade show to quit N.Y. for Hub

If this keeps up, Boston could end up hosting the Republican National Convention next summer as well as the Democrats.

 

IDG World Expo, the Framingham company that is moving its flagship MacWorld Expo convention from New York to Boston, said yesterday that it is doing the same with another of its technology industry trade shows in 2005.

The East Coast LinuxWorld Conference and Expo, a trade show for developers and users of the increasingly popular Linux computer operating system, will be held for the first time at the John B. Hynes Convention Center in the Back Bay in February 2005. The show has been held at New York's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center since its inception in 1999, but its organizers said they were told they won't be able to return in 2005.

IDG's East Coast MacWorld show will open the new $800 million Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in July, following a bitter battle that pitted Boston against New York and IDG against Steve Jobs, head of Apple Computer Inc., maker of the Macintosh. Jobs disagreed with IDG's decision to move the show out of New York and has said he and his company won't participate in the East Coast's largest gathering of Apple enthusiasts.

Yesterday, IDG president David Korse said the company anticipated eventually having to move LinuxWorld. The decision to move the much larger MacWorld show was unrelated, he added.

"Any landlord would be silly to kick out a client just because they were upset with them," he said. "The Javits Center was hosting another large event that has co-located with LinuxWorld. That show is growing very quickly, and it's much larger, so the Javits is going to require the space that we've been holding." Officials at the Javits Center confirmed they could no longer accommodate LinuxWorld during its usual dates. IDG was offered two alternative dates, but declined.

IDG hosts several large computer industry trade shows annually, typically with an East Coast and a West Coast incarnation of each event. The West Coast shows are held in San Francisco, which remains a hotbed for the technology crowd. Aside from MacWorld and LinuxWorld, the company hosts Bio-IT World Conference & Expo at the Hynes each March, but has no West Coast equivalent for that show.

The East Coast shows have not had as easy a time as those in San Francisco. While LinuxWorld is being nudged out of New York by a larger convention, MacWorld is coming back to Boston amid declines in attendance. MacWorld attendance peaked in 1997 -- the last year it was held in Boston -- at 55,000. Attendance at the most recent MacWorld, in New York last July, slumped to about 40,000.

LinuxWorld is much smaller, drawing about 11,000 attendees to its East Coast show in January, according to IDG. Korse said the show has been growing steadily because the popularity of Linux -- a computer operating system that can be customized because of its "open-source" code -- is growing.

"Of all the IDG World shows, I think LinuxWorld has the potential to be the most successful over the long term in Boston," said Patrick B. Moscaritolo, president and chief executive of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. "It has many of the attributes that made MacWorld successful. It has the groupies, the fanatics that have made Linux successful and will show up for this."

Boston is hosting the Democratic National Convention next summer, while New York is hosting the Republicans. James Rooney, interim executive director of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, said the LinuxWorld move underscores the heightened competition between the two markets. "We're getting into this game in a big way to win," Rooney said. "We're going to be going after meetings from other cities."

Reaction to the move from LinuxWorld exhibitors was mixed.

"We're definitely very excited about this," said Tim Lee, president of Pogo Linux, a Redmond, Wash., company that makes Linux-compatible servers. "Boston is a very big hub of activity." Doug Levin, founder and CEO of Black Duck Software in Chestnut Hill, was less enthusiastic. Going to New York gives his company access to more clients and potential funders, he said."On the other hand, Boston is a great technology community, and this move to Boston validates that. What I would prefer is to switch off between Boston and New York."Keith Reed can be reached at reed@globe.com.

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