4 May 2007
Super Solutions Steal Show(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 05,2007)
Hot Electronics In Hannover
Innovative ideas were again to the fore at the recent CeBIT 2007 electronics trade fair, where integration was the buzzword for service-oriented software architecture and the integration of different telecom networks.
Industry giants such as Siemens, Ericsson, BT and Lucent-Alcatel focused on the conversion between mobile and fixed networks of all types, be they GSM, Internet or Wireless Local Networks.
Meanwhile, optimised graphics featured for Sharp, which showed the world's biggest flat screen TV with its 108-inch screen - although it is not yet commercially distributed.
High-end versions for standard living rooms that range in size from 46-52 inches, cost between €4,200 and €5,200 and adapt automatically to the surrounding light, come with a disk containing 160GB of storage.
Elsewhere, better graphic definition was also a hot topic for Hong Kong companies HIS and Sapphire Technology, with the former showing its PCI Express One Card Connection X1550.
Dedicated to professional users and allowing them to combine nine computer monitors, PCI Express One Card Connection X1550 is now ready for application to Microsoft Vista.
Sapphire Technology was ideally situated in the Hong Kong area at Hall 20, where it was surrounded by computer gamers who appreciated Sapphire's X1950 Pro Dua graphic card.
Shown for the first time in Europe, the X1950 Pro Dua is specifically designed to allow more gaming performance and better image quality.
The company's other outstanding product was the Pure Innovation Mainboard for AMD AM2 processors, which features an interface for High Definition Multimedia (HDMI).
Buyers were equally interested in new phones for all kinds of network combinations, including Internet telephony pioneered by companies such as Skype.
Shiro Corp, a Hong Kong subsidiary of Singapore-headquartered Aztech, showed the SK9500 combined phone for DECT and Skype that doesn't require a computer for the latter service.
The product will retail at US$169. "We are still looking for a dealer," admitted senior sales manager Moh Boon Main. "Although this year CeBIT was not as good as last year, we do have some good leads."
Not to be outdone, Netherlands-based Topcom and Taiwan's Ipevo showed comparable products capable of using Skype without a PC, while DRS Electronics Ltd's product line combined Skype and DECT with colour displays or low-radiation versions.
Binatone Electronics took the opportunity to demonstrate the world's first product combining telephony and broadband Internet via the new CAT-iq standard.
The standard, which is designed for wireless communication and should enhance DECT, was given a significant boost with Siemens' announcement of CAT-iq products for summer 2007.
Binatone's Ivoice system takes full advantages of the new technology's potential by providing conference calls options with good voice and picture quality.
In addition to its normal commercial products, Binatone has an elegantly designed, high-end line called Idect that retails for €50-100 via IVS in Germany and Austria.
"We do not concentrate on hardware alone but are offering complete solutions mainly for big retail chains," claimed Binatone Telecom, Germany director Jeroen Dorenboes.
Further afield, Binatone delivers phone services to Tesco customers in the UK. "We are preparing a comparable deal for Germany and hope to be able to publish details before summer this year," Dorenboes revealed.
Like Binatone, many companies were quick to seize the opportunity afforded by the absence of large vendors such as Nokia, who increasingly utilise house fairs in order to better leverage their marketing efforts.
Sapphire Technology, which specialises in graphic cards, reported "good resonance", but less than last year. "CeBIT is important because of the international contacts, mainly in Eastern Europe," explained PR and marketing specialist Tamara Geiger, who added that Sapphire took part at IFA last year but has not decided about 2007.
Tommy Leung, operations director for Hong Kong solutions provider Ascomp Technologies Ltd, represented one of the very few Hong Kong players situated in the "Planet Reseller" area reserved for professional customers and dealers. "If some bigger companies choose not to come that gives us more chance to reach potential customers and to grow," he observed.
However, other firms said better alternatives for product suppliers are likely to be events at special sectors like 3GSM (telecommunication and mobile networks) or IFA Berlin (consumer products).
"The reduced interest of the big players has a negative impact on our business here," admitted Peter Yeung, marketing director for Hong Kong exhibitor Hightech Information Systems (HIS). "A presentation at IFA Berlin might be an alternative, or at least an extension of our marketing concept."
Interestingly, the outcome in terms of attendance was better than expected as fair representatives counted 480,000 visitors, an increase of more than 10% compared with 2006.
"With its new format, CeBIT achieved a turnaround, laying the foundation for the new concept in 2008," Deutsche Messe Hannover board member Ernst Raue commented, adding that next year's event will feature a "Digital solutions for work and life" tagline.
He insisted that the fair maintains its importance despite the non-appearance of several industry heavyweights. "The number of halls is not relevant but the number of solutions offered at the show is important, and the number of solutions is rising," Raue claimed.
For example, Samsung introduced new phones for Wimax and its Q1 Ultra UMPC for both consumer and business applications, the latter model supporting Microsoft's new Vista operating system.
One of the new versions shown in Hannover comes with a High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), which allows faster download in mobile UMTS networks.
Clearly, therefore, CeBIT remained a forum for presenting trendsetting innovations for consumer and business users, with robust attendance by major companies and an increasingly international focus as fewer than 50% of the exhibitors came from Germany.
"There has been a remarkable increase in the number of exhibitors from the Asia-Pacific region, Eastern Europe and Latin America, as well as from new, upcoming markets," Raue acknowledged.
Taiwan was represented by more than 600 companies covering 18,000 square metres, by far the biggest community at the show, while Hong Kong's 197 companies ranked fourth-largest behind the Chinese mainland and South Korea.
Eastern Europe accounted for the biggest increase in exhibitors while Russia registered 70% growth, largely predicated by its role as the partner country for the CeBIT organisers this year.
"We do not see Russia as a competitor but as a huge market," Leung of Hong Kong solutions provider Ascomp Technologies Ltd said.
His firm sees potential sales as "good" generally in Europe despite VAT rising from 16% to 19% in the largest market, Germany. "The exchange rate from Hong Kong dollars to euros is much better than last year," noted Leung, who added that the lower rate helps when it comes to offering better prices.
TEXT BY PIA GRUND-LUDWIG