The Consumer Electronics Show is bigger than ever in 2012, with more than 3,100 companies showcasing more than 20,000 new products. The CES show floor covers 1.85 million net square feet— that's more than 37 football fields.
Over 140,000 people are expected to attend this year's tech-fest. With so many making the pilgrimage to Las Vegas, ALL the big names in the industry — with the notable exception of Apple — are here to show off their latest products.
But there's plenty of companies you've never heard of. Chinese electronic makers like Shenzhen Nicetech, Ningbo Yinzhou Hopestek, ShenzhenLikkPower Electronics Factory and more. All in all, there's over 240 companies — nearly 10% of the exhibitors - with the word "Shenzhen" in their name at CES this year, according to the New York Times.
What in the wild, wild world of electronics is going on here?
You might not have heard of Shenzhen, but you've almost certainly bought and used products made there.
Located in Southern China and due north of Hong Kong, Shenzhen is one of the busiest manufacturing centers in the world and a major hub of the tech economy.
Apple may not be at CES, but it's definitely in Shenzen, home of the infamous Foxconn plant where several employees committed suicide. This is the dark side of technology Mike Daisy describes in his award-winning play 'The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.' (See: The Darker Side of Apple: The Human Cost of Your iProducts)
The Shenzhen section of CES is relative austere compared to other, bigger and more glamorous booths. Perhaps that's a reflection of the companies' sensitivity to criticism — and a way to avoid drawing attention to themselves. Or maybe it's a sign of their cost-conscious business practices, which critics say can go to extremes.
There's little thought of such serious issues amid the razzle and dazzle of CES, but it's something we should all think about after leaving Las Vegas.