Deutsche Messe, which runs the event, is expecting just 4,300 companies from 69 nations. That's down more than 26 percent from 2008, when 5,845 companies participated.
The figures mark a multiyear downturn for Cebit, which uses aircraft-hanger size halls on enormous fairgrounds in Hanover, Germany. In 2006, Cebit had 6,262 exhibitors and in 2001 had as many as 8,000 exhibitors. The show runs from March 3 through March 8.
The largest dropoff in attendance is coming from vendors in countries such as China, Taiwan and South Korea, said Sven Prüser, senior vice president for Deutsche Messe who is responsible for Cebit events worldwide.
"A lot of these smaller companies have closed down," Prüser said.
About 200,000 square meters of floor space has been sold this year compared to 240,000 square meters last year. Cebit has also been affected by competing European trade shows such as Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA), a consumer electronics show held in Berlin in August, and Mobile World Congress, formerly 3GSM, the world's largest show focused on mobile communications now held in Barcelona in February.