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Go East!

Go East!

Published: Monday, May 16, 2016

There’s a new consumer technology show in town. Or rather quite far out of town. But that doesn’t mean you should dismiss it as either not relevant to you, or too far away to make the effort to visit.

CE China launched its inaugural show at the end of April in Shenzhen, a short drive from the Chinese border with Hong Kong, attended by the general public and some 200-odd (some very odd) journalists from across Europe, all of which, despite fears over visas and the general suspicion of western journalists that China is famed for, made it through the border unscathed and largely unmolested.

The day prior to the opening of the show, said journalists packed into the conference halls of the InterContinental Shenzhen and heard talks from some of consumer tech’s great and good on the future of the industry, what mattered now and, naturally, what would matter to Joe Bloggs next. Naturally, a large part of that was given over to the two top tech trends at the moment: drones and virtual reality, the former not really relevant in the pages of a custom install magazine, but the latter clearly a technology that will play its part in the home cinemas and games rooms of the near-future, so for your sake I took notes.

It may seem slightly ludicrous to launch a new technology show in China, some might even say unnecessary, but with many Chinese brands on-board, alongside the likes of BSH (Bosch, Siemens, Neff, etc.) and a market that’s constantly on the up, CE China is actually obvious. What’s more, it’s organisers are not exactly amateurs when it comes to tech shows – it’s Messe Berlin. You know, the people behind Berlin’s massive annual tech-ageddon, IFA. So if they think it’s a good idea, it’s a good idea.

And of course, they were correct. Attracting some 150 exhibitors across its 15,000m² of floor-space at Shenzhen’s colossal Convention & Exhibition Center, CE China first year was a phenomenal success, much to the relief, you imagine, of Messe Berlin’s attending dignitaries.

“As the Asian counterpart of the global IFA trade show, CE China is consciously aligned to the needs of Chinese distributors, and existing retail structures in particular,” said Dr Christian Göke, CEO of Messe Berlin. “These distributors are interested in products manufactured by well-known international brands. It will be our task to successfully bring together these companies and distributors at CE China.”

Travel-facts now, ripped from guidebooks and Wikipedia. Found hanging around just north of Hong Kong, up until 1980 Shenzhen was just a simple market town with a modest population of about 30,000 people. But, as HK was still being ruled over by those bloody Brits, the Chinese decided they needed a city to rival Hong Kong and set about rapidly raising a city of skyscrapers, simultaneously ensuring that the whole shebang had ample workers and excellent trade routes. Now home to about 18-million people and a major financial centre in southern China, the choice of Shenzhen for a new consumer technology show must have seemed like a no-brainer to Messe Berlin, particularly with the local government being keen to become involved in the running of it all (and that’s how you get 200 journalists into China in one go!). Just how those behind the planning and building of Shenzhen felt when Chris Patten handed Hong Kong back to the Chinese in 1997 remains unknown. But, new as it may be, the fact remains: just as Berlin serves as the ideal location for IFA, Shenzhen already feels like home to CE China.

Okay, so 150 exhibitors is not that many, in all reality (IFA 2015 had some 1645 last year). But every show has to start somewhere and you can’t fault Messe Berlin’s acumen in anything they’ve done before. With a few well-known names on display and – as you’d expect – a massive showing from many Chinese manufacturers not yet so well-known over here, there’s no denying that CE China 2016 set its stall out well, it just now needs to build on that initial success by enticing more of the world-famous brands to exhibit, which is where BSH’s show of strength this year should help.

“Shenzhen is a fertile soil for innovation and entrepreneurship, and is a stage for science and technology to gather in future,” said XU YaoHua, Executive Vice President, South China Region of Suning. “I believe that this is also one of the important reasons why Shenzhen is selected for holding the First CE China. First of all, my thank goes to Shenzhen Municipal Government for providing a venue for us, so that we have an opportunity to witness the holding of the First CE China in this innovative city. Meanwhile, we would like to thank IFA for that, as a leader of Electronic Consumption Exhibition, IFA has brought about global top-ranking electronic products and future lifestyle into China, and cooperated with Suning for the first show. This is not only high-recognition with Suning, but also high-affirmation on China’s electronic consumption development enterprises.”

With smaller, private company-only shows currently being favoured in the UK, it’s only via exhibitions such as IFA that the public, the industry and the press really get to know the full scope of the tech that is available out there, which is why so many also flock to CES in Vegas each year. Well now there’s a new option; and while it’s far too new to compete in terms of scale with the Big Two, we’ll be intrigued to see how CE China evolves and grows over the coming years. I’ll also be keen to see if it adds custom installation to its remit alongside audio, video and appliances. Plus, give me Dim Sum over Bratwurst or McDonalds any day!

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