Readers of this Swordfish blog could be forgiven for thinking that all we do is run off to trade shows and exhibitions. That’s not true because we do a great more than that for our clients, but trade events give us an opportunity to get out and take photos.

That said, we like to attend most of the shows where our clients exhibit. We support them with press meetings and usually manage to catch up with a wider circle of people than those who attend our client marketing meetings. Then there’s a host of other electronics industry luminaries to keep in touch with.

Our most recent trade show was the IPC APEX Expo, which has been held in San Diego every January for many years. It would be disingenuous to pretend that visiting southern California in mid-winter is a hardship. San Diego is in fact one of my four favourite US cities – but that’s a story for another day. As it happens, this was the last APEX event in San Diego for at least four years; the show is relocating to Anaheim in California until at least 2027 and moving from January to March or April.

This year’s APEX Expo was surprisingly busy. Like so many events, one show was cancelled due to Covid and the 2022 exhibition was a touch lightweight in visitor numbers. Last year, we were all still wearing facemasks on flights, in taxis and in public areas at the Convention Center – like the Starbucks kiosk. So it was a welcome contrast to witness the hubbub this year. I lost count of the number of times I heard someone use the phrase “back to normal”.

Future APEX Expo show dates
Europlacer booth at Apex 2023
Oliver and Fais of Evertiq

A series of press meetings on the Europlacer booth went without a hitch. I was delighted to be invited to a dinner organised by leading Scandinavian electronics publication Evertiq – my thanks to Oliver and Fais for a splendid evening at a fine restaurant in San Diego’s appealing Gaslamp Quarter.

It’s never too late to go green

For the first time, I chose a different ‘greener’ sort of transport to travel between my hotel and the San Diego Convention Center – a distance, allowing for the rigid grid-like road pattern, of just over a mile. Electric scooter. I saw these eScooters last year (and in previous years, I recall) but stayed in a hotel further out of town so used Ubers instead.

In the past year, the San Diego City authorities have tightened up on electric scooter use. There are areas where you cannot go – the scooter will cut out, thanks to its built-in GPS. And no riding on the footpaths (sidewalks). Parking at the end of your ride is also now strictly controlled (and enforced) with small bays painted on the road alongside the kerb. But there are loads of bays, and loads of scooters, so it’s no problem. And it does keep the city tidy. I guess that’s the idea.

We will miss the delights of San Diego. It’s a lovely place and maybe we’ll be back someday. But Anaheim is still in California so we can expect decent weather (how British is that?) and I’m told that the Convention Centre area has been thoroughly revamped. It is full circle for those of us who’ve supported the electronics manufacturing industry for many years. Back in the 1990s, Anaheim was always the venue for trade shows like Nepcon West. Remember those events? Do you also remember that Nepcon stood for National Electronic Packaging and Production Conference?