Tag Archives: asean

CES still hasn’t bridged the continental divide

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This year’s rebranding of the tech extravaganza formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show saw “International” dropped from the name. It’s now just CES, although it still bills itself as a “global technology event”.

Looking just at attendees and media, it certainly is an event with global pull. But the products on display overwhelming come from companies based in developed or near-developed countries, even though the actual manufacturing is often done in the developing world. China is well represented, of course, and there’s ample room to debate which category it falls into, but nevertheless it is exceptional in every sense of the word.

Every year brings a handful of exhibitors from ASEAN nations. This year, the total dropped significantly, with only 13 companies attending, including 10 from wealthy Singapore. Two were from Thailand and only one from Malaysia, Nationgate Solution, a contract manufacturer. Last year there were 15 from Singapore and five from the rest of the region. That’s out of more than 3,600 exhibitors total.

India held more or less steady with six exhibitors, one less than last year but the same as 2014. South America was barely present with one exhibitor, Student Genius from Colombia; past years have fluctuated between zero and two. Last year there was one African manufacturer, this year there were none on the show floor. One publisher from South Africa, IT News Africa, set up a stand though. It’s a good read and worth a look if you’re interested in following the African tech scene.

One thing the Consumer Technology Association could do would be to set up a special forum – there are plenty already – for contract manufacturers and similar providers of outsourced services. Among the 150,000 or so attendees, there are thousands of entrepreneurs, many of whom are on the hunt for someone to make their stuff.

CES needs to bring global partners to the dance

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The “global technology event” which is officially – whatever that means – called “International CES” isn’t living up to its name even as well as it did (or not) last year. Exhibitors from Africa, South America, South Asia and Southeast Asia are even thinner on the ground in 2014, judging from the pre-show floor guide.

Last year, 23 companies from ASEAN nations exhibited products, this year the total is only 18. Hanoi-based Tosy is thankfully back – nothing like a dancing robot to perk up the day. The Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand also have a single representative, a plus for the Philippines but a loss for Thailand which fielded 3 exhibits last year. Singapore is still the powerhouse, with 14 companies showing product, a gain of 1.

Indian companies and organisations are losing interest, with only 6 exhibiting versus 10 in 2013. South America is doing better this year, with one bona fide entrant – Comercial Revbox, a trading company from Chile – on the show floor. Last year’s continental rankings had South America tied with Antarctica: zero.

Africa is not doing as well. Vivid Audio, a Johannesburg-based maker of high end audio systems, is back but that’s it. Morocco’s Nemotek isn’t returning and no other African exhibitor is making the trip.

Developing world start-ups sometimes share booth space with better established partners or participate in small company showcases, like Showstoppers or Pepcom, so there’s plenty of opportunities for pleasant surprises.

Last year, 36,000 people – nearly a quarter of the total – from 150 countries came to CES as international visitors, and exhibitors from dozens of northern hemisphere countries could be found on the show floor. CES is an amazing show that well deserves its international tag. It’s not too much to hope that it can eventually close the gap and become a truly global event.