As has been widely reported within the VoIP corner of the blogosphere, the VON brand has now been reborn under the new ownership of Virgo Publishing. After the demise of Pulvermedia and the VON tradeshow in the spring of 2008, many of us wondered if new owners would be found to bring back the show - or was its demise just a sign of the times and the fact that the conference / tradeshow space related to VoIP is already quite crowded. We watched both Jeff Pulver and Carl Ford move on with their lives and new endeavors... and it seemed that maybe VON would just be consigned to the annals of IT trade show history. Or would it?The answer came earlier this month when Virgo announced the launch of www.von.com as a portal for VoIP news and also announced a new VON Conference and Expo for September 2009 in Miami.
The rebirth is intriguing on a couple of levels. First, with Pulvermedia, "VON" was the conference/tradeshow and magazine brand, but the web portal was Pulvermedia.com. Now, it's all "von.com". The portal, newsletters, tradeshow and everything else. The tag line is also no longer "Voice On the Net" (or later "Voice/Video On the Net") but rather "The Voice of Network Convergence". As Jon Arnold notes, Virgo has ditched Jeff's distinctive purple color theme for a more traditional blue. And the show is also co-located with Virgo's "Channel Partners" show.
It will be interesting to see how the show goes. As several people have written about, there was a certain "magic" around the VON shows, especially in the earlier days. As Carl Ford wrote about the original VON:
Jeff (Pulver) was on the cool apps side, while I brought in the people who wanted to make efficient networks to support them. That to me was VON, but to our audience VON was a lot of things. It was Cool Apps, New Opps, brillant minds and the switch to cheap voice, etc.
I think the challenge the old VON had was that its audience did become extremely fragmented in recent years. Was the show about voice? and cheap voice? was it about carriers? enterprise? was it about video? Or was it about social networking? I think VON tried to be all of those things and in the end that dilution of focus may have helped in its demise. Will the new VON try to focus a bit more? Or will it try to be more?
In this tough economic climate and in a space already filled with shows, I commend anyone who takes up the challenge of mounting a conference / trade show event. The "new" VON is now nine months out... and it will be interesting to see what it evolves into. Right now there's not enough info up on the website to really understand what it will be... but we should see soon...
P.S. Note that the VON Call for Speakers is open until January 30th