Computex: The Grand Picture
For years Computex has been one of the premier ICT (Information, Communication, Technology) trade shows and has done a superior job in promotion as well as ROI. With the completion of Computex 2012 I want to focus on the big picture for you. Computex has traditionally been a platform for product launches and business acquisition, but what about this year? Has Computex 2012 brought with it the same ROI for exhibitors, visitors, and buyers worldwide? The answer is a resounding yes, but the way in which it has done so has formed a trend line over the past few years which is as interesting as it is disturbing.
For many years now the organizers of Computex have painstakingly tracked attendance, monetization, and the global impact of their show. This yearly diligence has lasting effects on their ability to plan and capitalize on Computex as a platform. Lets take a look at the attendees. Did you know that traditionally the number 1 nation represented at Computex has been the USA, followed by Japan, China, Hong Kong, and finally Korea in 5th. This year for the first time Japan rises to number one putting USA in second place with China, Hong Kong and again Korea in fifth.
If you are from the US that should disturb you greatly, but wait there’s more. The promoters took great care in expressing their hopes to expand the presence of Korea in future Computex shows. Given their diligence and foresight this should tell you something. Namely that Korea may play a growing impact on global economic markets for ICT. Citizens of other countries worldwide should take notice and not dismiss this trend towards the Asian economies. Just how big a piece of the global pie does Computex account for? The promoters count the single week of Computex 2012 as being responsible for over 1.5 billion in revenue with 10 billion being earned in the first 1/3 of the year and estimates for 28 billion over the full course of the year. That’s 28 billion with a B. . . all due to one trade show. Those numbers don’t even take into account the sister show to Computex called Display Taiwan. Yes Taiwan is a major manufacturer of TV’s, LCD’s, Plasma panels, AMOLED’s, and more. So dismiss this move at your own folly. I don’t know a single company or country for the matter in the world that would pass up an extra 28 Billion for a weeks worth of trade show work.
The show organizers helped coordinate over 1045 meetings during the week, and that’s just the documented ones. Considering ICT makes up over 35% of all Taiwan trade you can see why they place such an emphasis on the show. In just the last two years the Taiwan government built the new Nangang Exhibition hall with plans to complete a second hall by 2014 for expanded space for even more companies and visitors. Somehow I just don’t see the same commitment from the USA government and CEA. And yet citizens of the United States seem baffled at why they continue to lose global market share and provide competitive products. The answer is quite simple, the backing comes from the top down and the USA government seems more interested in single handedly squashing global terrorism than ensuring the safety of their economy. Should the US be successful in vanquishing terrorism (a feat which is impossible) I wonder if they plan to collect payments from the other nations to reimburse them for the economy crushing effect of their global war. Good luck collecting.
Back on the topic of the show, the organizers have seen their first decline of income from Computex this year. They estimate it between 2 and 5%. Add this fact to the USA dropping to second place in International visitors and you may draw two potential conclusions. First the current economic crisis in the USA is responsible for the loss of 2-5% of revenue for Computex alone, and this could be the motivating factor for the show organizers shifting their focus to undamaged economies. If you live in the USA are you getting concerned yet? If you are then understand that this trend will be difficult to break and will take years. If you aren’t then you are probably just as likely in that category of purchaser who thought it was a great idea to buy a $300,000 house with nothing down on a flexible interest rate even though your income is less than $30,000 a year. Keep on buying into debt my friend. Ignorance is bliss.
Overall I want to leave you with an understanding that these trade shows have a global economic impact and following the buying trends as well as who shows up is rather important.
Computex organizers list Ultrabooks and Windows 8 as saving graces of the show though Ultrabooks and tablets likely represent the majority of business transactions at the show. I remain unconvinced that Windows 8 will have a good reception by consumers, especially on desktop systems. It seems that one of the first things users are inclined to do is revert this new OS back to an old look at feel. Has Redmond just succeeded creating another OS destined for failure? We bet yes. Its quite possible that disks of Windows 8 will lay in stacks next to Windows Vista and Windows ME in the hall of shame. As for Ultrabooks, that company funded initiative has paid off big-time. Everyone wants one, it’s a great product, it advanced computing as well as the user experience, and all while generating sales for companies worldwide. That’s a win-win if I ever saw one.
Computex 2012 sees the addition of Samsung as a show exhibitor and its interesting to note that they wanted more floor space than they were provided. How big is Samsung you ask? well at Cebit (German ICT tradeshow) Samsung has its own hall. For those that have been to CES, connect the entirety of Hall’s 1 and 2 and Samsung’s space was still bigger. From all accounts their space at Computex was a sucess, I personally never saw their floor space near empty even on the last day of the show. See why Taiwan is building a second exhibition hall?
In another first for Computex Ford joined the list of exhibitors and was showing off its Microsoft Sync equipped vehicle and their concept car the EVOS. Though the EVOS was on display my senses detected a fake and upon closer inspection I found that it was only a cleverly disguised mach up and not a real vehicle. The Microsoft Sync equipped Ford Focus was also there in shiny red and at least it was real. Their Automotive Cloud Computing vehicle was truly innovative in its scope of features and impressive once you got past the “big brother is watching” terrifying way that your car was being integrated into your life. From monitoring your driving habits to your home, your car was being put in charge and ultimately that cloud and thus Microsoft. What I suspect you will see in the future are cars being offered from manufacturers where the primary selling points are the software it comes with rather than its driving ability. Think Windows Mobile vs Android cars, hope my car doesn’t end up having incompatibilities with certain street signs resulting in a BSOD which kills me.
Though many had hoped to see them this year HTC remains absent as an exhibitor for Computex though I question if they really have to. I mean why pay millions for a week worth of show floor space, hire the staff, fly in exec’s and product, and manage an army of show girls if you products can already be found in nearly every vendor on the show floor. Overkill perhaps? Why make the effort if your result is the same without the expenditure? Show organizers claims that HTC had no new product launches to make may be partially true but I think that then bean counters higher up in HTC decided it wasn’t worth the effort just yet. HTC was included in on the forums but those are mostly a formality. Perhaps next year HTC?
Seems that every manufacturer I saw was offering some sort of cloud storage in combination with their product. The company Muzee offers products almost exclusively cloud based. Seems like a gamble to me that consumers will rely upon their connection to the internet enough to buy a product that cant be used without a connection. As an extension of “Cloud storage” as a product almost all laptops and even some tablets were being offered as having greater storage than they actually did when you took into consideration their online storage. Asus in particular used this tactic in its description of their Ultrabooks, though most of the other manufacturers did the same.
Computex D&I Awards:
The Design and Innovation awards has typically been the Computex vehicle to reward companies with outstanding features in design an innovation. This year though I found very few real innovations or products with designs that I felt excelled. There were however, a few which I did feel were innovations. A company known as AdvancPOS Technologies created an intelligent POS cashier terminal that is used in conjunction with fast food plates, cups, etc and results in your food automatically being rung up for the correct amount when you reach the cash register. I think this is a truly innovative design which will also unfortunately lead to lost jobs for cashiers but also ultimately more profit for companies and possible other jobs being created. Thermaltake’s Level 10 mouse was given an award as was Genius for a ring presenter mouse that really had some nice features. Other companies awarded included Cooler Master, MSI, and Gigabyte for some really slick looking Ultrabooks. On the
Ultrabook front a company known as Inhon was given an award for their 11.6″ entry which used an entirely carbon fiber chassis which I have to tell you looks awesome and is so light that I at first didn’t think it was a real functional computer but it was.
All in all Computex 2012 was a resounding success for all involved, unless of course you were an international visitor from America. From a media journalist perspective there was much to note that was interesting and informative about technology trends as well as global and economic ones. From a technology perspective I didn’t see much that wowed me, I did see new products announced but nothing earth shaking. Windows 8 is interesting but rather more annoying to most Windows users that useful. Is Microsoft once again trying to force the market to go the way of the Tablet? You betcha, the only question that remains is weather they will be successful this time around.