InfoBalt generates excitement in Vilnius

  • 2001-11-01
  • Tassos Coulaloglou
VILNIUS - The four-day InfoBalt Expo, featuring Lithuania's largest information technology and telecommunications companies as well as subsidiaries of foreign companies working in Lithuania, ended on Oct. 27.

InfoBalt is now the largest event of its kind in the Baltic states, one that enables technology companies of all sizes to showcase their products and services to the public and business community. This year 200 companies took part.

In name, this was the eighth InfoBalt but something similar has taken place in Lithuania for 10 years now.

The first event of this kind was held in 1992 by the Free Trade Company, a German firm. BalticInfo, as it was called, was organized to give IT and technology based companies a chance to come together and show the public as well as potential investors what was new in Lithuania.

But the largest of these tech companies were not satisfied with BaltInfo and in 1994 the InfoBalt Association was created.

Conference and exhibition organizer Visus Plenus has run InfoBalt since its conception, taking charge both of strategy and advertising. All exhibitors pay Visus Plenus a concession fee and ticket sales are divided between the exhibition center and Visus Plenus.

This year's InfoBalt consisted of many different types of exhibits, ranging from the serious to the outrageous, often reflecting on the present as well as looking into the future.

According to Indre Daubaraite, manager of the Lietuvas Telekomas stand, "We have done market research on the visitors; their age, what they like, the overall demographics. Our results show that every year we are seeing younger and younger people here - this is our target audience."

Staff of Takas, Lietuvos Telekomas' Internet service provider, underwent special training in how to target the younger generation for two weeks prior to InfoBalt. Showcasing Takas, rather than some of Lietuvos Telekomas' other services, ensured the younger generation visited the stand, said Daubaraite.

And they left little to chance, laying on a large skateboard and rollerblading ramp and finding kids to show off their skills in the half-pipe. They also paid graffiti artists to decorate a wall behind the computer terminals where anyone could surf and try out Takas' services. For anyone signing up for an Internet connection a 50 percent discount on the cost of installation was available.

Not to be outdone by the casino and dancing girls provided by their rivals Tele2, Takas hired two of Lithuania's biggest pop stars to perform on Oct. 25-26, as well as a big name DJ to spin records all day on Oct. 27. A camera broadcast the events live on the Web.

"We had Andrius Mamontovas and Skamp both sign up for Internet services after their performances in front of the crowd and Mamontovas also signed copies of his new CD that we were giving away," said Daubaraite.

But not all exhibitors were aiming to be as trendy as Takas or Tele2.

One stand which looked wholly out of place next to the bright lights was that of Ericsson. Rimas Kalvaitis, overseeing Ericsson's living room of the future, said the company wanted to show what new uses existing technology could be put to.

"What we have seen in the past is that there was a gap between where technology ended and imagination started. Now we see that gap has decreased," said Kalvaitis.

Among other things, members of the Ericsson team took pictures of visitors with a camera attached to a mobile phone, showed the picture on a screen in the stand and subsequently sent it to the individuals' e-mail addresses.

"We want to show people the possible applications of today's existing technology. It is the development of applications that is the catalyst to developing new technology," explained Kalvaitis.