The birth of Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies (CEATEC) can be dated back to 1962, when Japan's consumer electronics industry was beginning to take off. Following suit, emerging economies in Asia, including Taiwan, Korea and Hong Kong, started to hold electronics trade shows in the 1970s. They chose to schedule their events for different dates in October every year so that international buyers could visit all four shows in one trip. This was standard practice wherein the Asian Tigers were following in Japan's footsteps.
The information and communications technology (ICT) industry began to flourish in 2000 with personal computers taking center stage and mobile communication devices exhibiting promising potential. The Japan electronics industry was also evolving to focus on ICT. Amid the trend, the Japan Electronics Show organizer decided to make changes and created CEATEC, a major event showcasing the latest high-tech developments. In the nearly two-decade history, CEATEC witnessed defining moments of the electronics industry, such as the launch of LCD TVs in 2003 and the battle over DVD formats in 2006. The show in 2007 recorded a total of 200,000 visitors but then CEATEC began to lose popularity with the number of visitors on the decline.
CEATEC organizer made the decision for the show to embark on a fresh chapter in 2016, highlighting "Internet of Things" (IoT) exhibitions. Going into its third year of the IoT theme, CEATEC 2018 took great pride in hosting 725 exhibitors from healthcare, construction, retail, heavy industry and factory automation sectors. Among them, 345 were first-time participants, 206 (28%) were from abroad and 162 were startups. According to CEATEC estimates, the total number of registered visitors came close to 160,000, which should be no exaggeration based on Digitimes' observation at the event.
The theme for CEATEC 2018, which is a global showcase for Japan's growth strategies and vision of the future known as Society 5.0, was "Connecting Society, Co-Creating the Future." What can electronics trade shows in Taiwan learn from a leading-edge exhibition like CEATEC?
Industry leaders heading the way into the 5G and IoT era
The first Japan Electronic Industry Exhibition (later renamed "Japan Electronics Show") took place in 1962 with shows held in Tokyo in even-numbered years and Osaka in odd-numbered years. This arrangement was decided in part because vendors in Tokyo specialized in system integration while vendors in the Kansai region were experts in making components. Around the time when the book "Japan as Number One" was published, Japan Electronics Show was regarded as the Japanese equivalent of Consumer Electronics Show (CES), recording a total number of 443,000 visitors in its prime. CEATEC 2018 hosting 160,000 visitors is certainly a recovery from the lows though there's still a long way to go. The fact that CEATEC has been seeing increases in visitors is due to efforts by a few leading component suppliers in the Kansai region, particularly Murata Manufacturing, playing a major part behind the scenes, according to Rohm.
Industrial changes will not happen without participation by leading firms. CEATEC 2018 gathered leading system integrator NEC, convenience store chain Lawson which has 15,000 outlets, high-speed road management and construction company NEXCO East, automaker Toyota, automation solution provider Fanuc, as well as component makers Kyocera, Murata, Rohm and Taiyo Yuden.
Lawson chairman Sadanobu Takemasu noted that he regarded CEATEC as a showground for the future concept of retail business and a great learning opportunity for the company's 15,000 convenience stores worldwide. He said the exhibition is not only a place to show off business strength and promote products but also a chance for employees to learn and internalize the Lawson value.
NEXCO East and NTT presented how to make use of IoT advances for solutions such as roadway inspection, repair and maintenance, as well as public safety and incident reporting systems. CEATEC 2018 highlighted the concept of co-creation, which extends beyond the integration between the telecommunication and electronics sectors to include collaborations among suppliers, users and consumers to jointly shape the future.
Masaki Sakuyama, chairman of CEATEC sponsor JEITA and chairman of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, said that "We need to have big, exciting dreams," as he described CEATEC as a showground for young Japanese engineers' dreams amid the upcoming 5G and IoT era, a time when the quality and speed of data transmission are making leaping advances. Japanese people are now dreaming big.