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CES Asia: Riding China's consumer electronics wave

Posted: 01 Jun 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Intel? smartwatch? WiFi? consumer electronics? Internet of Things?

If you're in Shanghai this week to attend CES Asia, a new venture directly sponsored by the U.S.-based Consumer Electronics Association, you might not think you're at CES.

This ain't Vegas.

The big exhibitors here, just like recent versions of CES in Las Vegas, are the global automotive companies. They range from Mercedes-Benz and Audi to Volkswagen and Ford.

Conspicuously missing, however, are big name consumer electronics brands, even local companies such as Xiaomi and Lenovo.

Clearly, these are the early days of CES Asia. Given the magnitude of the Chinese market, this thing might amount to something by and by.

Proximity between design and production

In reality, this first CES Asia accurately captures the state of China's consumer electronics industry. China still has few global CE brands. On display are lots of fragmented consumer products with a big emphasis on the Internet of Things.

This show also signals a close proximity between product design and manufacturing. Strong supply chains are also a part of the presence here.

A group called Ingdan, with the funky slogan "Hatch that Internet of Things," showed off a lot of connected devices designed by different entrepreneurs.

Ingdan

Ingdan calls itself a platform for hardware supply chain and resources.

Ingdan describes itself as "China's largest hardware IoT innovator that links entrepreneurs with the right suppliers." The company, specialising in supply chain integration, says it "supports start-ups from the beginning of a concept to mass production," offering services such as supply chain consultation, project showcasing and product promotion.

Most visible at the show are products born out of the "makers movement," including some with links to Kickstarter. "Too young to build brands" isn't a phenomenon just among the Chinese. It's a hurdle facing every entrepreneur in the world.

It's important to note that many start-ups present at the show are operating their businesses sans borders. Ask where they're based, they often say that they're both in Silicon Valley and in Shenzhen (or Shanghai).

Fueled by the excitement of the makers movement in Shenzhen and a growing number of incubators in China, "I'm seeing a phenomenon that never occurred before, start-ups and makerspaces everywhere," observed Yang Yang, an engineer works at RPTech Works and UniMaker in Shenzhen. Yang, whom we talked to a year ago, is one of the original leaders of Shenzhen-based makers movement.

As Bin Lin, president and co-founder of Xiaomi, said in an interview last week, "zero distance" from customers and "proximity between design engineers and factories" are key advantages for Chinese consumer electronics companies. "You can draw a beautiful design on a paper in an office" somewhere in Europe or the United States, said Lin. "But it's critical for design engineers to work side-by-side with those working at factories" in China.

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