January 26th, 2007
The number of exhibitors at CeBit in 2006 was 6,167….which was about 1% down on the 6,246 that exhibited in 2005. No news there then. Except when you start to look at the breakdown of exhibitors by country. The number of exhibitors from China increased from 304 to 396. That’s a 30% increase if you’re not so hot at mental arithmetic. You might not feel that’s news either. We’re constantly reminded that the Chinese are poised to take over the world any day now. The People’s Republic is currently the world’s fourth largest economy, second largest at purchasing power parity, third largest exporter and importer, consumes a third of the world’s steel and almost half of the world’s concrete, So why is it such a struggle to name even a handful of Chinese technology brands. Lenovo, China Mobile, China Telecom…….erm? One clue might be that most of the exhibitors at Cebit in 2007 will be component manufacturers. Now I’m fairly certain that the Chinese know how to take these components and assemble them into shiny finished product. So why aren’t they doing just that and selling them over here? One theory is that the Chinese don’t get Western branding. Another might be that the home economy is booming and therefore represents a better risk/return than trying to muscle in on established markets overseas. Either way, if you’re planning on visiting CeBit this March, it might be wise to brush up on your Mandarin.