CESAsia: The Consumer Electronic Association’s Big Gamble
CESAsia registration crowd
Photo: Stephen Cass

Once upon a time, in the 1980s and 1990s, there was a show called COMDEX. It was the show to attend if your product employed any kind of serious electronics. Then, the Consumer Electronics Show ate COMDEX’s lunch; the last COMDEX was held in 2003. Since then, CES has ruled supreme: 160,000 people from all over the world attended last January’s show, which had 52,000 exhibitors.

Now, perhaps as something of a pre-emptive strike against any would-be attempts to eat its lunch, the Consumer Electronics Association, which owns CES, has launched a spinoff show in Shanghai, CESAsia. The attraction of locating CESAsia in China is obvious: not only is China where most consumer electronics are manufactured, it’s also where these devices are finding a growing retail market.

Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, anticipates a 5 percent jump in the size of China’s domestic consumer technology goods market, from US $268 billion in 2014 to $281 billion in 2015.

Still, CESAsia is starting off small, with 15,000 attendees and around 250 exhibitors. In fact, there are fewer Chinese companies here in Shanghai than can be found at the Las Vegas show, where small outfits selling every part of the great consumer electronics supply chain crowd into giant halls. So, which companies are hawking their wares at CESAsia? Shapiro says that the exhibitors that are present are a “curated” group, consisting of only those that were “truly innovative or have a significant brand.”

Despite these relatively humble beginnings, Shapiro believes that great things are in store for CESAsia. He says that he expects the show to grow to rival the CES Las Vegas show. (Whether or not both shows could co-exist at similar scales was not addressed.) IEEE Spectrum will be here through out this inaugural CESAsia, bringing you the best from the show.

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What's the largest criminal enterprise in the world? Narcotics? Gambling? Human trafficking?

Nope. The biggest racket is the production and trade of counterfeit goods, which is expected to exceed US $1 trillion next year. You've probably suffered from it more than once yourself, purchasing on Amazon or eBay what you thought was a brand-name item only to discover that it was an inferior-quality counterfeit.

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