What’s hot and what’s not at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair

The 2013 Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Autumn Edition) opened its doors to factories, trading companies and importers on Sunday 13 October 2013. This is the biggest edition in the show’s history, with more than 4,000 exhibitors from 30 countries showcasing their wares.

We spent the opening day visiting the digital and consumer electronics stands and it is clear that some categories are generating more interest than others. Here is what’s hot and what’s not at the show.

HOT

Wireless Speakers

Undeniably the hottest single category at the show, wireless speakers — nearly all Bluetooth; very little AirPlay — are everywhere, in all shapes and sizes. Importers can bring in these audio solutions to work with smartphones and tablets for as little as US $3 per piece though insiders say consumers are only looking for brand names in this space.

Headphones

The very first product you see when you enter the show are Guns n’ Roses branded headphones for US $8 per piece. Goes to show why so many suppliers are investing in this category – there is plenty of margin to be had if you get the mix right. You can pretty much pick up headphones in any shape, style, colour and design imaginable; you can choose to source them for your own brand or pay a little more and take on a nascent brand that already has some marketing support.

Lightning Connectors

It has been 12 months since Apple launched the new connector for its iPhones and iPads and China has definitely caught up. You can get audio docks, power packs, replacement chargers and a variety of Lightning to other adaptors, such as USB and 30-pin.

Android Smartphones and Tablets

There is no surprise in this — Android tablets have been big business among OEM suppliers for several years now — but the quality of the copycat products is remarkable. A well-placed source said you need to have seven differences to avoid an IP infringement but they certainly were not obvious in the Samsung Galaxy clones on display.

Action Cameras

It is a market dominated by GoPro and Contour but a lot will change once the myriad white label action cameras start to gain traction. Those two brands spend a lot on marketing, which will be hard for an opportunistic importer to match, though all these models look exactly the same to the naked eye.

Turntables

I don’t get it — the technology is 100 years old — but there was plenty of interest in turntables and vinyl-to-MP3 converters.

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COLD

Televisions

Conspicuous by their absence, TVs are nowhere to be seen at the Show, save for a few small screen manufacturers looking for a retail volume order. I was told by a local experienced in this category that the TV business is like quicksand; razor thin margins for a comparatively expensive manufacturing process that is declining in Europe and the United States.

Personal Navigation Devices

“We all have a GPS on our phone now,” was how one factory owner explained the lack of GPS devices on the market. Five years ago this market was booming – but it was actually cresting – as the rise of Google Maps has made the dedicated GPS a luxury most are willing to do without.

Compact Cameras and Camcorders

Look hard enough and you will find suppliers of digital compacts and camcorders though this is clearly a market that has been decimated by smartphones at the entry level and some very fine mirrorless models at the high end.

Smartwatches

It’s either too soon for this category to hit China or it is not happening at all because despite all the hype stemming from the Galaxy Gear launch, there is virtually no interest in this market.

The entrance of the Fair is a constant hubbub of activity.

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