Convergence key to GITEX Shopper success

The growing importance of GITEX Shopper & Consumer Electronics Expo and its impact on the traditionally IT-focused event that is GITEX Dubai is a by-product of the increased convergence of IT and consumer electronics technologies.

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By  Aaron Greenwood Published  November 15, 2006

|~||~||~|The growing importance of GITEX Shopper & Consumer Electronics Expo and its impact on the traditionally IT-focused event that is GITEX Dubai is a by-product of the increased convergence of IT and consumer electronics technologies. More than 150 exhibitors from the IT and consumer electronics industries have confirmed their involvement at this year’s Shopper, which kicks off in Dubai this weekend. GCC power retailers including Jumbo Electronics, Jacky’s Electronics, Plug-Ins, Sharaf DG and CompuMe, have also confirmed their involvement, adding weight to event organiser Dubai World Trade Centre’s claim that GITEX Shopper represents the single largest retail platform for technology in the Middle East. The fact that many of these retailers have diversified their product portfolios in recent years to include mobile IT-based technologies also demonstrates to what extent the traditional boundaries separating both sectors have been breached. The increased development of new consumer electronics products featuring traditional IT networking components, such as Wi-Fi, is creating a host of new commercial opportunities for companies involved in both sectors. It is also blurring the once-clear distinction between IT and consumer electronics products, which is fuelling increased competition in various product categories. A case in point is the MP3 player market, which is dominated by traditional consumer PC vendor Apple. Over the past 12 months, Apple has faced increased competition from consumer electronics companies such as Sony and Samsung, and minor threats from IT peripherals manufacturers including Creative and iRiver. This has also had a major impact on the retail sector, with portable music players – in addition to other portable devices such as notebook PCs, cellular handsets and PDAs – being increasingly stocked by consumer electronics retailers. The introduction of software giant Microsoft to the market with its Zune portable media player is set to further blur the traditional boundaries separating the IT and consumer electronics markets. While Zune’s limited features and comparatively cumbersome aesthetics mean it is unlikely to pose a major threat to the market dominance of iPod in the short term, of major importance is Microsoft’s decision to include WiFi connectivity as standard, which allows users to share music with other Zune players wirelessly. Microsoft argues that the inclusion of wireless connectivity represents the next major leap in consumer electronics product development. Indeed, this philosophy even extends to more mature and less likely product categories such as household appliances, which are being radically recast as a result of the development of home networking technologies. Consumer demand for ‘intelligent’ white goods is growing rapidly, which is spurring greater cooperation between traditional IT and consumer electronics companies in the development of new products. Vendors such as Siemens, LG Electronics and Samsung are in turn leveraging their respective in-house IT resources to create proprietary home networking technologies and appliances, in a bid to develop all-in-one solutions for consumers. Overall, the increased convergence of IT and consumer electronics technologies spells good news for channel players and consumers alike, with the development of new and innovative products captivating consumers and generating increased commercial opportunities for technology developers. ||**||

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