Beijing--More a lively bazaar than a business-as-usual trade show, COMDEX China '98 recently greeted some 80,000 eager visitors to this city's China International Exhibition Center. Held March 24-27 this year, COMDEX China '98 focused on the country's burgeoning information technology industry.
Expected to surpass $22 billion by the year 2,000, China's IT market reflects a better than 30% annual growth. In addition, PC shipments are anticipated to exceed five million units by the century's turn, with 2.7 million Internet users by the year 2,001.
Such numbers attracted an impressive collection of domestic companies, as well as vendors from throughout Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Intel, Iomega, and Computer Associates, for example, mounted major exhibits and aggressive marketing campaigns.
Not all big names were present, however--Microsoft being the most noticeably absent. Hewlett-Packard and SUN Microsystems also withdrew from the show. Exhibition officials attribute their cancellation to concern over the current state of the Asian economies.
Despite the withdrawal of these industry giants, the show's energy level remained high. If anything, the absence of such high-profile names focused more attention on the many domestic firms offering products and services to the world's fastest-growing IT market.
One surprise: the unexpected variety of consumer technologies on display, suggesting that China's consumer market is rapidly emerging.
Multimedia software and advanced display technology drew the most attention, especially very high resolution flat-panel displays. Major software advances were also evident in voice processing technology and graphics management. For example, voice-recognition software from Emkay Innovative Products, Taipei, Taiwan, converts spoken Mandarin to computer commands and word processing documents.
Other Chinese firms exhibiting at COMDEX China '98 included systems integrators, Internet service providers, and localization services. The latter provide registration services for international software products and create Chinese versions of software user interfaces and help facilities.
COMDEX China '99 returns to Beijing March 23 - 26, 1999.
Lee Tougas provides sales and marketing services for information industry companies seeking access to Asia markets. Lee's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org