Ever more Chinese companies are attending the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held each January in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Over 4,200 exhibitors from more than 150 countries took part in the 2017 show, with 1,300 Chinese setting up booths at this year's event.
Chinese products everywhere
Chinese exhibitors are present throughout the venue, from the northern exhibition hall (the 'auto show') and the Las Vegas Convention Center, packed with leading technology brands, to the southern hall for startups. They have brought a wide range of products to the show, ranging from driverless cars to virtual reality, smart home appliances and small drones.
"China is the largest trade partner for the US and we are seeing more and more Chinese companies attending CES. For example, Xiaomi appeared in CES in Las Vegas for the first time this year. Other Chinese companies such as Huawei, DJI and Leshi [SHE:300104] are all great companies. They showcase the originality of Chinese enterprises," said CES Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gary Shapiro.
Startups experience mixed results
Large corporations do not monopolize the CES. Many exhibitors gathered at Sands Expo and Convention Center two miles away from the central exhibition hall. Most are startups and consumer electronics manufacturers looking to find more overseas customers. Their stands are around nine square meters and products are tightly spaced, separated by plain partitions.
Some of the exhibitors are well-established startups. This is the second time Chen Jinrao, co-founder of Insta360, has attended the event with his team. They rented a nine-square-meter stand last year for around CNY100,000 (USD14,444) with each participant required to pay CNY30,000-CNY40,000.
With a larger business, they rented a 40-square-meter booth at the 2017 show that cost CNY300,000, and paid CNY400,000 for a dozen or so participants. This is no small amount for startups. His team "went all out for a big win and brought its latest products to CES," Chen said.
The company has good cash flow right now, said Chen, who wants to reserve his stand earlier next year. "We're determined to get a bigger booth," he said.
The show was bustling, but some exhibitors had come here in a desperate struggle for survival.
"Two of my friends from Shenzhen attended CES. Both of them have used up the money they received from angel investors and betted the farm on the show with all the money they had. Their companies will survive if they get orders at the show. Or, if a feature of their products is sold to the media in China or abroad, their companies may weather it through after the products get some media exposure," said Chen.
"Exhibitors here mainly split into two categories. Some are startups looking to demonstrate their new technology, find large manufacturing clients and investors, and integrate resources. The others are sellers looking to generate orders for mature products, especially from foreign buyers," said Liu Huidi, China marketing and PR director at uSens, a Silicon Valley tech startup. Her company specializes in developing interactive augmented/virtual reality solutions and she was attending the exhibition for the second time.