Mobiles and 3D printers shine at 2014 Electronics Market: Survey on Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Autumn Edition, 2013)
12 November 2013
Hong Kong Electronics Fair 2013, Autumn Edition
Industry players are increasingly adding “smart” features to their electronic devices in order to capitalise on the continuing popularity of smartphones and tablets. At the same time, a number of other companies have been swift to move into areas that have opened up as a result of technological advancements. This is particularly true in the case of 3D printing technology, where falling printer and printing material costs are set to transform the sector.
Overall, the electronics market is expected to enjoy steady growth in 2014, with personal electronics, accessories and audio-visual equipment set to enjoy the highest sales growth.
These were the views of many industry players at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair 2013 (Autumn Edition), one of the largest gatherings of electronics professionals in the world. HKTDC Research canvassed 673 buyers and 350 exhibitors at this October event, seeking their views on the market prospects and the latest product trends.
Steady market in 2014
Of the respondents surveyed, 92% of buyers and 88% of exhibitors forecast that sales would either remain steady or increase in 2014. This was a marginal improvement on the survey results from last April’s fair, where 89% of buyers and 80% of exhibitors indicated a similar sentiment towards 2013 sales prospects. Of those buyers and exhibitors who expected a rise in 2014, they typically forecast that sales would increase by 10% and 12% respectively (median rates) in value terms.
93% of the buyers and 88% of the exhibitors forecast that their sales would stay the same or increase in 2014.
Remark: The bracketed figures represent sales forecasts for 2013 obtained at the Electronics Fair in April.
Promising market prospects
As for individual markets, the scores that buyers awarded all overseas markets were higher than the neutral level (3 marks). Buyers, in general, felt that the overall global market held promise, although none of the markets scored above 4 on a scale of 5.
The Asian economies, including China, ASEAN, South Korea, India and Taiwan, were rated as the most promising markets for the next two years. The scores for the traditionally mature markets - North America, Australia/Pacific and Western Europe (listed in order of perceived growth potential) - were also in the promising range. Significantly, Japan’s score was 3.33, a marked improvement on the last survey when its score was below the neutral level of 3.
|Asian economies, including the Chinese mainland, ASEAN, South Korea and India, were rated as the most promising markets.|
Key: 1 = very unpromising; 3 = neutral; 5 = very promising
Pre-eminence of 3D printing technology
An exhibitor demonstrates a 3D printer at the fair
For exhibitors, 3D printers were the stars of the Autumn Fair, with such products attracting frequent enquiries from visitors, according to HKTDC Research’s on-site observations. More than half (53%) of respondents described the market potential of 3D printers as “promising” or “very promising” for the next three years, though they were not identified among those products seen as having the highest growth potential in 2014.
Certain 3D-printing models – which are also known as rapid-prototyping (RP) machines - have been used to make prototypes for several years across a number of sectors, including electronics, toys, jewellery and watches. One exhibitor, Golden Map Technology Limited, an agent for several Japanese and German RP models, told HKTDC Research that there was now rising demand for RP machines. This demand comes from both commercial and industrial sectors in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland and is, again, largely attributable to the falling costs of the machines and the “printing” materials.
Several players are now also applying 3D technology for office and domestic purpose, further boosting demand. In the case of Hong Kong’s C Enterprise Ltd (CEL), the retail price of its 3D printers is now as low as HK$8,000. CEL’s proprietary “robox” printers are no larger than a conventional inkjet printer and are designed for use in small offices or domestic premises.
Smart applications extended for “mission impossible”
Despite the ascendancy of 3D printers, many industry players still clearly regard smartphones and tablets as the most essential products, given their abiding popularity in the consumer market. According to the survey findings, about 75% of respondents believed that sales of smartphones and tablets (in value terms) would continue to increase at the present or at a faster growth rate over the next one to two years. This is a higher response than the April survey, where only two-thirds of interviewees held the same view.
|About three-quarters of the respondents believe sales of smartphones and tablets will continue to increase at the present or faster growth rate.|
* in value terms
Source: HKTDC Survey
Industrial apparatus compatible with iOS and Android devices
In line with this expectation, a substantial number of exhibition stands featured devices and accessories for smartphone and tablet applications. Several industrial tool and apparatus companies had also added “smart” features to their products. NovoTech Industries Limited, a Shenzhen-based company, for instance, was offering industrial inspection camera systems and high-definition endoscopes that can be used with iOS and Android devices in order to inspect hard-to-see or hard-to-reach areas. A spokesman for the company said the “smart” features would make its products more user-friendly, and were highly conducive to sales in the medium term.
Personal electronics, accessories and audio-visual trends
Overall, 23% of respondents predicted that personal electronics (including mobile phones and tablets) would enjoy the highest sales growth in 2014, followed by electronic accessories (12%) and audio-visual products (11%). Other items with high growth potential include home appliances and computers/peripherals.
|Personal electronics will enjoy the highest sales growth in 2014.|
Remark: Each respondent was allowed to choose one product category only.
Source: HKTDC Survey
Profile of respondents
There were 673 buyers canvassed, with 37% from Hong Kong, 27% from the Chinese mainland and 5% from Taiwan. The remaining 31% were from other international markets.
Of the 350 surveyed exhibitors, 45% were based in Hong Kong and 35% on the Chinese mainland. The remaining 20% were from other international markets.
- Electronics & Electrical Appliances
- Hong Kong
- Hong Kong