Heidelberg's absence led to many comments along the lines of "who would have thought we'd ever come to Print and Heidelberg would not be there...". While the company surely had many good reasons, I felt the absence created a vacuum in terms of brand presence that was quickly filled by HP and Xerox, leading to the inevitable conclusion - right or wrong - that digital printing has taken the crown.
Another notable no-show, especially after all the DRUPA 2012 attention, was Landa. It did not seem to be a big deal for people who were more interested in buying equipment for their businesses now. The fact that Komori - seen as prime partner for Landa at Drupa - highlighted their Konica-Minolta partnership sent the clear message that Landa technology is still far out in the future, especially since even the show-cased KM-1/IS29 (who comes up with these names?) will probably not be available to US customers before 2015. Oh well, still plenty of time to figure out if a 3,300 sheets/hr UV inkjet machine is a cost-effective alternative to your old offset press or whether an existing niche product like Presstek's DI is an even better solution anyway.
Manroland sheetfed supposedly signed up last minute for a booth, but I could not find them in the hall nor the catalog and even the digital product finder was no help. With Komori and KBA holding up the flag for sheetfed, nobody seemed to miss them, quite contrary to Heidelberg.
So, what does it all mean? Is it the end of the classic Print show, giving way to in-house events? Not in my view. While open houses and technology forums are great opportunities to communicate with the customers you know in a captive situation, it is dangerous to avoid the public market place of a trade show. Not being there is worse than being there with even the most modest booth. Kodak's very small appearance was probably at first a shock to many, but it gave them an opportunity to tell their story and connect with customers.
If you don't exhibit you give the stage to your competitors to tell their story, and yours as well.