S'pore companies eye 'happenstance' at CES

update Ten local companies will head to Las Vegas and hope for "serendipity and happenstance" to showcase their innovations and grow their international presence.

update SINGAPORE--Trade promotion agency International Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore) will lead 10 homegrown companies to the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas later this month. The mega IT tradeshow will be a useful conduit to check out new innovations as well as grow their international presence, company executives note.

At a media preview here Thursday, Reginald Wee, group director for technology business at IE Singapore, said the U.S. market remains the gateway for new and innovative products to gain global recognition. "CES is an important avenue for Singapore consumer electronics players to showcase their innovations," he stated.

The government agency has been supporting local companies at CES since 2010, setting up meetings for them with its network of potential partners, distributors and suppliers.

Kal Takru, co-founder and COO of iTwin, told ZDNet Asia at the sidelines of the event that for startups, CES is a "good platform [because] it allows happenstance and serendipity". This helps smaller companies to grow their business and international footprint, he added.

Takru said the main chunk of iTwin's revenue so far has been from distributors the company met at past CES events. The company first launched iTwin--a USB drive that allows secure data sharing between two online computers--in Singapore in 2010, before making its global debut at Las Vegas last year at CES.

The co-founder added that at this year's CES, the company will be introducing the iTwin Multi, a software update which will allow up to 20 computers to share data when online.

Jimmy Fong, CEO and executive chairman of EpiCentre, a local reseller of Apple products, said CES still attracts a lot of innovative small and midsize businesses (SMBs), and serves as a "good conduit for people to go and see new products".

Fong, who has attended the event since 2008, said he considers CES to be a platform to launch products from Singaporean brands--including EpiCentre's own iWorld range of electronics accessories--as well as to find new items to import for the Singapore market.

Asked if mega IT tradeshows such as CES are losing their relevance as more major vendors decide to stay away, iTwin's Takru replied it is not surprising that big companies want to "do their own shows" to unveil new products and services.

"Why dilute [the brand] or schedule product development according to [another party's] schedule? If a company was in Apple's or Microsoft's shoes, it'd do the same thing. [These companies] don't need CES," he explained.

Microsoft had recently announced it will be pulling out of CES after 2012, following other longstanding non-attendees Apple and Google.