You know it’s a major show when CBOSS is there with their bevy of show-stopping long-legged Russian dancers circulating throughout the show and – every now and again – dancing. I first saw them years ago at Singapore’s CommunicAsia show in rather abbreviated cowboy (uh…cowgirl) costumes, but they’ve since become a fixture at major shows – almost a mark of major shows – around the world. CommunicAsia certainly qualifies as a major show – they were there in long gowns.
CommunicAsia 2007 attracted close to 70 thousand visitors, about a third from overseas. The show seems to get bigger, and more exhausting every year. This year, I’m told, there were 2,413 companies, about 80 per cent from abroad – not at all surprising considering the size of Singapore, S’pore, as they call it, the host country.
The four-day show was divided into a number of sub-shows and conferences – each big enough to qualify as a good-sized show on its own.
The shows, CommunicAsia itself, EnterpriseIT, BroadcastAsia and Interactive DME (Digital Media and Entertainment) are held concurrently; despite the distinctions, they are really one big show. They are also one big draw for the trade – all the ICT sector suppliers and service providers doing, or hoping to do, business in the region. Whoever wants to do business in the region will probably find everyone they want to do business with at the show.
As one would expect at this Asian mega ICT event, it was chock full of ‘est’ – the biggest, badest, mostest, slimest, fastest, sharpest, prettiest…- products, services, suppliers, leaders, buyers and sellers, speakers, you name it, imaginable.
Interactive DME is the newest and smallest event at CommunicaAsia. It is aimed at all the service, equipment and content providers in the digital media universe; that is, all those in some way involved with digital video, audio, cinema, home entertainment, advertising and marketing, multimedia broadcasting, games, IPTV and so forth – it’s a very long list.
The Interactive DME event’s two conferences, the one-day Mobile TV and IPTV Forums, counted with sector leaders and attracted some 300 professionals to learn about state-of-the-art technology and services to network and do business.
EnterpriseIT 2007, or the 4th International Information Technology Exhibition & Conference for the Enterprise – Asia’s Definitive Enterprise Technology Event (quite a mouthful) was supposedly about using IT to run your business better. Actually, it was about selling more technology so the exhibitor’s business goes better, but a bit of exaggeration is forgivable. Given the growth of the Asia Pac market, the interest in EnterpriseIT was intense. The organisers divided the event into vertical industry groupings – financial services, healthcare, hospitality, retail, logistics, manufacturing, media and entertainment, telecommunications, government, but if you were looking for something else, you could probably find it.
The associated IX Conference 2007, run by Singapore’s InfoComm Technology Federation, is an unabashed attempt to bring more business to the region – especially to S’pore. It is a showcase for the latest technologies, services and companies. It is aimed at buyers and, I hear, does a pretty good job attracting mid and senior level executives.
BroadcastAsia, in its twelfth year, is the oldest parallel event at CommunicAsia. The exhibition this year was organised into a number of ‘technology trails’ – DVB/DMB, HD (high definition) technology, IPTV, professional audio. There was a certain overlap with the CommunicAsia event itself and Interactive DME in the IPTV, mobile entertainment and the gaming exhibits.
The big topic, both at the show and the conference this year was HD. Everywhere you looked, whatever the trail, whatever the subject, one seemed to run up against the latest in HD products, services. The quality difference between standard definition and high definition is becoming the driving force in consumer device sales and – obviously – the entire value chain in the marketplace is re-aligning itself accordingly. From content producers to viewing devices manufacturers everyone is concerned with getting HD right, affordably.
The cost of HD production is quite a concern and it’s not just a case of getting new equipment. Even the scenery has to better withstand the scrutiny that HD enables. Another concern at the show was, of course, the rollout and uptake of the broadband capabilities that will enable HD transmission and reception.
If there was any star at this show it was broadband At CommunicAsia itself, and at all the parallel shows, when talking about the market, the business models, the future of the carriers, the latest and greatest carrier gear, of the simplest to the slickest mobile handset, the talk all revolved around broadband. It’s not tomorrow, not in the least, not anymore. It’s now, it’s urgent and it’s pretty much all here. The buyers are looking and the choice is growing throughout the range of equipment.
The CommunicAsia exhibit and conference, itself, was divided into a number of sub-topics, of which – besides the ever present broadband beat – the biggest draw was wireless, mobile wireless to be precise. Although there was a good deal of talk about the lowest-end handsets, the ULC (ultra low-cost) handsets destined for the emerging markets. It was the high end of the handset market that attracted hoards of viewers at stand after stand. Once more the bigger (okay, in this case, smaller) better, faster, more feature packet gizmos enthralled the crowds.
It seems certain that we will all soon be chained to relatively low cost, pocketable, devices that do just about everything, even voice calls, if you are really interested in anything so commonplace as all that. There are a growing number of really capable cameras, two way live action cameras, personal assistant functions, and Window’s enabled, slide out or flip open full keyboard phones. It is easy to imagine a day, not far off, when most of us will have one of these devices – a personal window on the world and all-purpose tool. We will soon depend upon these devices as much as we depend upon electricity and, no doubt, take them just as for granted.
All in all, no big surprises, just more of the same, but better; it was, though, one hell of a show of the sort we have come to expect at CommunicAsia.
Our next issue, Connect-World Africa & the Middle East (2007), will be published later this month. The issue will be widely distributed to our reader base and, as well, at shows where we are media sponsors such as: GSM ME Gulf and North Africa (Dubai, 2-3 Sept), Gulfcomms (Dubai, 8-12 Sept), ICT Africa 2007 (Nairobi, Kenya, 1-5 Oct), Cards Africa, South Africa (Johannesburg, 8-11 Oct), and GSM Africa (Cape Town, South Africa, 21-22 Nov).
The theme of this issue of Connect-World Africa and the Middle East will be: ICT for the people – Economic and social development in Africa and the Middle East
Development depends upon a wide variety of factors. Economic growth calls for investment, an educated population and easy access to markets, information and communications. Information and communications technology, ICT, cannot, by itself, improve health, stop wars or provide education, but it is a major driver of socio-economic growth and development.
The advent of ICT in Africa and the Middle East has, arguably, done more than any other single factor to alleviate the region’s problems and provide tools for sustainable development. The influence of ICT extends from the continent’s commercial and financial centres to unimaginably remote rural areas. It helps big businesses grow and small businesses survive, it creates jobs and ties even the smallest farmer, tradesman or business of any sort to the markets they depend upon. ICT is helping reform governmental, educational and health services and is bringing them directly to the people – wherever they may be.
ICT provides the region’s door into the global economy, to citizenship in the Information Society. This issue of Connect-World Africa and the Middle East will investigate how ICT is already revolutionising the region, changing its economies and societies forever. We will ask the region’s top decision makers to describe their vision of Africa and the Middle East’s future and of what is needed to achieve it.