Consumer Electronics China focuses mostly on mainland
The three-day show in the city often dubbed China’s Silicon Valley took place for the first time as Messe Berlin, host of the IFA, tries to capitalize on rising demand from global consumer electronics companies to seek business opportunities with retailers and distributors - particularly e-commerce companies - in the world’s second-largest economy.
“Our long-term goal is to establish a trade show that is based on successful cooperation with leading retail groups and a strong consumer-oriented, cross-thematic brand- and product-philosophy for the smart world of tomorrow,” said Dr. Christian Guke, CEO of Messe Berlin, at the opening ceremony.
“The rise of the Chinese middle class is creating even greater demand for Western and quality brands, and satisfying this demand requires the qualitative development of distribution channels.”
IFA succeeded in attracting China’s e-commerce giants Alibaba, Suning and Gome as official partners of the event, but the exhibitors were mostly rising Chinese companies specializing in smaller home appliances as well as already established German brands such as Bosch and Siemens.
No notable participants from Korea or Japan - such as Samsung Electronics and Sony - were present.
Alibaba’s booth lured the largest crowd as it allowed various home appliance retailers including Korea’s leading juice-making machine producer Hurom to showcase their goods.
Suning, China’s second-largest e-commerce player, devoted the majority of its space to Haier’s Hello Kitty front-loading washing machines, air conditioners and Whirlpool’s washing machines and air purifiers.
Le TV, the so-called “Netflix of China” founded by a former Google employee, showed off its video-streaming service on its self-made high-definition smart TVs, which it has named “Super TV,” and set-top boxes that resemble Apple TV systems.
Some booths were less impressive. One start-up, Dlodlo Technologies, showed off a prototype of what it claims to be the world’s first sunglasses-like virtual reality glasses. The company’s CEO, Li Gang, sounded certain about the technology’s revolutionary potential and promised an unveiling in New York, but didn’t provide either a working model or any specific dates.
Other exhibitors reminded attendees of China’s reputation as the copycat kingdom.
Vargo, a two-year-old start-up that specializes in mobile security, reserved a space to show off its smartphones that looks exactly like Apple’s iPhone 6, down to the “iVargo” logo on the back even though they run on Android system.
It also appeared at times that the event was unprepared to be a truly global gathering.
Many exhibitors were there to cater exclusively to Chinese vendors rather than international visitors, and the staff at many booths only spoke Chinese. Some were also unwelcoming to the press, with a few refusing to provide even minimal bits of information about their products.
Whether CE China will evolve into an annual event is unknown as of now. Organizers say they will make a decision after seeing how successful this year turns out.
BY SEO JI-EUN [email@example.com]
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