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Get the picture(HKTDC Electronics, Vol 02,2008)

HKTDC Hong Kong Electronics fair (Spring edition)

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There was no better place to spot the very latest trends than the Hall of Fame at the HKTDC Hong Kong Electronics Fair

Time and technology wait for no man, and nobody knows that better than AV manufacturers racing to meet the ever-evolving demands of markets worldwide.

Increasingly sophisticated consumers are always seeking new solutions such as better resolution or integrated features, says Kenneth Wong, the owner of LCD TV manufacturer OTIC Digitech Ltd.

"Customers always prefer the very latest products," he advised. "Technology and functions have become big selling points - it's no longer just price."

His expert opinion is reinforced by the statistics, which show that Hong Kong exported AV equipment valued at more than US$3.5bn in 2007.

The Chinese mainland, the US, Japan, Germany and Korea took the largest shares, with 19- or 22-inch screens proving the most popular items in the ever-popular TV sector.

"Each year there's a big increase in LCD-TV sales," Mr Wong observed, adding that he expects global sales to exceed 100 million units in 2008. "But companies need to be capable of looking at markets, studying them and understanding their needs."

He noted that some areas, like Australia, the US and the UK, have already moved to digital from analogue broadcasting. "So factories must integrate flexible solutions while adjusting strategies and technology with each market change," Mr Wong believed.

Computers may have begun rivalling TVs for video viewers, but he still predicts a long-term role for TVs. "People like the most user-friendly products, and computer screens have size limitations - they can't be 32 or 42 inches in size," Mr Wong observed. "Television sets still attract a steady demand that rises each year, and worldwide sales should exceed 200 million units this year."

Audio is equally popular, particularly Internet radio, according to RockridgeSound Technology Co Managing Director Roland Young. "Now it's easy to enjoy worldwide radio, and users also like Internet radio integrated with iPods," he observed.

He adds that RockridgeSound tries to think "a year ahead" of the market, citing the digital audio broadcasting (DAB) radios that have been popular in the UK. "That demand has declined, but DAB-plus attracts lots of interest in Australia, where many people want to integrate DAB radio with the Internet," Mr Young believed.

Technological developments such as these give consumers more choices, and radios have more functions. "Listeners can switch from Internet radio to DAB to FM radio to an iPod," Mr Young enthused. "Each product is like a total solution."

As a result, fewer manufacturers dare to rely on single-function items and more and more TVs appear "in combo" with DVD players.

Indeed, many of the DVD players have iPod docks, digital photo frames and alarm clocks. "We put everything inside," claimed Samwin Hong Kong Ltd Marketing Manager Sandra Poon.

Initially, she said, customers asked for DVD players before requesting other functions such as USB ports, card readers, alarm clocks or TVs.

"Price pressures push customers to want all-in-one products, and we gain the reputation of being able to build everything into one player," Ms Poon observed.

These sophisticated, multifunctional products can also be portable - for example, portable DVD players with USB/card readers can double as digital photo frames.

"The fastest-growing market is South America, where more customers sign contracts with famous brand names and contact us for OEM work when they become richer," Ms Poon said. "But next year, the Chinese mainland may be the priority market."

Elsewhere, many factories plan to make high-definition items like TVs, players and set-top boxes, with the future looking particularly bright for next-generation optical-disc format Blu-ray Disc (BD).

"Soon BD players will replace many DVD players in the US and Europe," predicted Gowell Holding Ltd Chief Executive officer Jason Wong.

Gowell plans to offer Internet-compatible BD players. "No longer just players, they will be video centres," Mr Wong insisted. "Users can download movies from the Internet and play them without needing to write onto a disc."

Clearly, AV technology will continue to develop, and the Hall of Fame at the HKTDC Hong Kong Electronics Fair will continue to remain the best source for the latest, best and most innovative AV products the world has to offer.

An Irresistible Event

The HKTDC Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Spring Edition) and HKTDC International ICT Expo are set to become even more of an unmissable event next year.

Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) Assistant Director Raymond Yip said the fairs that would run from 13-16 April 2009 would feature an additional 1,000 booths, offering new business opportunities for electronics manufacturers and software developers.

"The twin fairs will be able to grow further with the completion of the HKCEC Atrium Link Extension Project," he predicted. "April is a golden sourcing season and many overseas buyers flock to Hong Kong."

He added that HKTDC put the two fairs together to draw more quality buyers to Hong Kong. "Looking at the steadily growing number of exhibitors and buyers, our strategy has proved to be a successful one which enables buyers to visit two related trade fairs at the same time," Mr Yip concluded.

His confidence was reflected by exhibitors such as Hong Kong's Simon Trading Co Ltd, which took the opportunity at the 2008 fair to launch a new NEXTBASE WiFi digital photo frame that allows users to download photos from Google's Picasa via WiFi.

"This product has been well-received by buyers who bought our DVD players in the past, as well as new buyers from Singapore and Brazil," Marketing Manager Doris Au said.

Fellow exhibitor NXT-New Transducers Ltd of the UK was equally impressed with the HKTDC Hong Kong Electronics Fair and the Intearnational ICT Expo.

"The fairs enable our company to reach buyers from around the world on the one hand, and on the other expand our business on the Chinese mainland," said Sales and Marketing Director James Bullen, adding that NXT-New Transducers had relocated more R&D to Hong Kong in recent years.

The Spring Electronics Fair is also buyers' first-choice electronics trade show in the region. "With a full array of products on offer, the fair is the most appealing electronics fair in Asia and I will definitely join the fair every year," said A & EL Co partner Igor Glotov, who was sourcing everything from personal security, home appliances and medical healthcare electronics to mid-price electronics toys and home robots.

Gulf Wireless & Television Co Sales Manager Raju Narayanan T concurred. "The HKTDC Spring Electronics Fair is one of the world's must-attend trade fairs," he observed. "Here, we can keep abreast of product trends and business information."

Little wonder they were so enthusiastic, the fifth HKTDC Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Spring Edition) having attracted 2,469 exhibitors from 23 countries and regions, including first-time participants from Brazil, Israel, Macau, Romania and Thailand.

Running alongside, the HKTDC International ICT Expo brought together 585 information technology suppliers and software applications developers from 20 countries and regions, including new exhibitors from the Netherlands and the UAE.

A record total of 53,000 buyers visited the HKTDC Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Spring Edition), including 30,000 buyers from outside Hong Kong - mainly from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, the US, Korea, Japan, Australia, India, the UK, Germany and France.

Not to be outdone, the International ICT Expo drew 27,000 buyers, including 15,000 buyers from outside Hong Kong - mainly from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, the US, Korea, Japan, Australia, India, the UK, Germany and Russia.