Thursday, February 2, 2012

Good times in the city by the bay

Optimism with caution was the rule-of-the-day among the dozens of exhibitors we interviewed at this year's Photonics West, held in San Francisco last week. This show has grown from an
intra-industry event to one of the world’s premier international photonics exhibitions now expanding into the field of industrial laser material processing equipment.

If it hadn’t been for the continuing mixed economic news from Europe, the gloom and doom of feature stories in the media, and the playoff loss of the local San Francisco 49’s professional football team, nobody would have had any complaints. And why not –about 20,000 visitors, presenters, and exhibitors helped to set an attendance record for show and conference. Almost 1200 exhibitors filled two halls at the Moscone Center, and from the opening bell, the aisles were full of enthusiastic lookers and

Earlier in the week, at the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar, I had presented a glowing picture of the 2011 market and forecasts for a good but not great 2012. My remarks were corroborated by exhibitors who had attended the seminar with the general consensus being that a modest mid-single digit growth on 2012 coupled with the phenomenal 2011 growth wouldn't be all that bad.

If there was one drag among show-goers, it was the nagging news that suppliers were playing it close to the vest in terms of increasing employment and that Capex was being monitored

From the long dinner lines at area restaurants, it seemed that Photonics West was an economic boom for expense spending, and city officials might take note and lay out a more welcoming carpet for next year's event. You wouldn't even know we were in town, if talking to cab drivers is any indication. Or maybe the laid-back Silicon Valley residents are blasé when it comes to exciting technology shows and

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