Tag Archives: vivid audio

CES needs to bring global partners to the dance

by Steve Blum • , , , , , , ,

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.

Proud and few, African companies at CES

by Steve Blum • , , ,

Nemotek brings Moroccan manufactured products to CES.

More than three thousand companies from 52 countries are exhibiting at CES, but only two are from Africa.

“There's a lot of manufacturing going on,” said Philip Guttentag, CEO of South Africa-based Vivid Audio. “It's just not very well marketed.”

Vivid was showing its sleek speakers in a high-end audio group display. The company makes its products near Durban.

Nemotek designs and builds its tiny CMOS camera modules in Morocco. Their product is positioned as a high reliability, small form factor imaging product for mobile electronics and laptop makers. They can support up to 1080p video and 10 megapixel still photos.

CES is “the perfect show for us,” said Omar Elrhoul, Nemotek's sales and marketing manager. He said they go to the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, but he's finding that CES draws a broader range of potential customers with more diversified applications.

Both Elrhoul and Guttentag seemed a little surprised that more African companies didn't make the trip to Las Vegas. They didn't expect many companies from their part of the world to exhibit, but they thought there would be some. The lack of exhibiting companies wasn't unique to Africa. South American companies were equally thin on the ground.

I'm surprised, too. Going in, I was expecting to find at least a handful of African entrepreneurs pitching either their companies to investors or products to the industry. The cost of making the trip is obviously a factor, and complicated U.S. visa procedures is undoubtedly another. But two is a good start. I'm looking forward to next year.