I wandered into the Exhibition hall at ISTE 2010 briefly today. I could only really stand about 30 minutes in that room, it was rather overwhelming. As I wandered around, I realized that the vast majority of the stalls with vendors in them seemed empty. In fact, most people were gathered around a few larger vendors and many of the smaller vendors looked pretty bored.
The problem is that we have SO much choice of what to look at that many of us couldn’t decide. There were hundreds (if not thousands) of people wandering around the hall window shopping at different vendors, and hardly anyone stopping to find out more, except like I said at a few of the larger vendors. Adobe, Promethean, etc… could draw customers to their booth through the power of the reputation they have developed but the smaller vendors did not have this option.
My thought about this is that they all looked the same from the outside. "Hey look, we have some limited solution to a tiny problem your schools have and we want some of your money." This was the refrain of 90% of the vendors in the exhibition hall.
Here’s a recommendation for next year: bring in some students from your partner schools and have THEM demonstrate the technology in practice. If your product doesn’t lend itself well to student demonstrations, then there is a problem with your product, and maybe an exhibition hall isn’t the right place to share it.
If you are going to rely on a poor practice for sharing work, I think you should expect poor results.