NAB 2008: Record international visits, “evolutionary” systems and hardware changes

I didn’t go to NAB 2008 in Las Vegas this year for the first time in many years.

It now seems like I wasn’t the only one to stay at home and follow the biggest show in broadcasting while sipping a Margarita and navigating the show floor over the web.

Along with previously announced “no-shows” at NAB 2008, such as Avid and Apple, general attendance was down more than 5% from last year, to around 105,000 total visitors and hallways were sometimes nearly empty.

There was an even greater dip in U.S. attendance, which was partially made up by a record attendance of more than 27,000 international visitors.

Speculation on the reasons for the jump in international attendance range from the faster growth in IPTV usage overseas, to the large number of visitors taking advantage of the cheap American dollar to visit Las Vegas.

It was probably a little bit of both.

By all reports, however, the international flavor of this year’s show is here to stay. More than 550 of the approximately 1,600 companies exhibiting at this year’s show had headquarters outside of the United States.

The typical American dominance of this show (led in the “old days” by companies like Ampex, Abekas, CMX and RCA) was further reduced by Avid and Apple’s absence.

That doesn’t mean that these missing companies didn’t make news ? or that there weren’t a flurry of other interesting products announced at the show. There were many.

While not a revolutionary show – NAB 2008 (which many pundits called the last “analog” NAB) will be remembered for its “evolutionary” emphasis on tape-less workflow, solid-state acquisition, mobile digital video demonstrations, and content management systems to help users keep track of all of the digital media assets that are flooding into stations and facilities around the world.

For their part, broadcasters were focused mostly on the end of analog NTSC TV transmissions and the looming transition to the FCC-mandated switchover to 100% Digital ATSC Transmission, now less than a year away.

Let’s take a look at some of the big companies and key trends from the show.