The i-Stage Competition

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The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) named their top finalists in the new i-stage competition, a technology event featuring the most innovative new consumer technology products that will soon come to market.

The 15 finalists will unveil their products before a live audience on October 20, at CEA’s 2008 Industry Forum in Las Vegas.

The winner of the i-stage competition will receive $50,000 to develop its product line, as well as free turnkey exhibit space at the upcoming 2009 International CES in Las Vegas January 8-11.
CEA’s i-stage competition creates a powerful competitor to the many conferences like DEMO that charge companies to bring their new products to the limelight for funding and press.

The i-stage finalists are:

  • Amulet Devices, The Amulet Remote

  • Avaak, Vue ™ personal video network

  • Boxee media center

  • Frontline Inc., Fitness Interactive Technology (FIT)

  • GenAudio Inc., AstoundSound

  • Instinctiv Shuffle

  • IPEVO digital photo frame

  • JFDI Engineering Ltd., GridSearch

  • Lightglove, LtWv

  • Next2Friends, People in Motion ™

  • Occipital LLC

  • Pongr Inc.

  • PDT Ltd, Novo, Minora 3D Webcam

  • Taggle

  • YouBundle

The i-stage finalists will have their products reviewed and judged on Monday, October 20, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas, by a panel of technology experts including Kevin Kelly, Wired Magazine; Ryan Block, formerly of Engadget and Jeff Pulver. Molly Wood, executive editor of CNET will serve as Master of Ceremonies for the event.

Registration for i-stage and CEA’s Industry Forum is currently open. For more information on the events, visit .

IFA Says Up, But Are Appliances Up “Right?”

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If you entered from the South entrance, there was something new this year at IFA Berlin. Berlin’s famous brown good show turned white, white as a ghost.

The ghost of appliances, that is. This year an exclusive exhibition area measuring 25,000 square metres in Halls 1.1 to 4.1 was earmarked for HOME APPLIANCES@IFA.

There’s this photo of Miss IFA precariously perched on a Siemens appliance and what a perfect visual analogy. The relationship between white goods and brown goods has been tenuous at best throughout the years. And Miss IFA won’t be comfortable for the long term on that appliance either.

The ghost of major appliances has haunted consumer electronics ever since an appliance store first decided to add a new product called TV to its product mix. Appliance/TV was one channel, radio/TV another and furniture/TV was a third.


The New Generation, WiFi Photo Frame

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At IFA, Kurt Weiss of CINUX showed us the new generation of picture frame, an easy-to-use, easy-to-configure Pixstar model. 

Photo frames started out as a humble product category, basically as a small screen liberated from further hardware by a memory card and driver. How we underestimated these small screens!



An Old Tradition, the Trading Company Comes to CeBIT

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Inside the ICP@CeBIT pavilion in Reseller Planet at CeBIT, we were surprised to see the stand of Al-Futtaim Electronics.

We recognized Al-Futtaim from their position in the Middle East market where they represent brands like Volvo, Alactel, Toys R Us, Toshiba, Panasonic and more.

A part of the nature of the Middle East market reflects the nature of their dominant trading partners: the factories of Asia. In Korea, they have chaebols and in Japan the zaibatsu. These are generally family owned trading companies that grew into conglomerates with diverse interests.

Al-Futtaim’s growth (more than 70 companies in the group) reminds us of Mitsui Trading and other Asian traders. Today Al-Futtaim has inside its conglomerate, an impressive group of electronics companies. Maybe you recognize the high street retailer, Plug-Ins. Or the pan-MEA product service company, Tech Serve. There’s Panatech, the exclusive Panasonic distie.

On the retail side, there’s IKEA, ACE HARDWARE and Toys R Us in the Al-Futtaim group.

So which company of the group has a stand at CeBIT?

Gouri Shankar represents the Global Trading Division of Al-Futtaim Electronics. GTD sells branded electronics from CE, IT, home appliances and telecom industries.

And when Shankar says “branded,” he really means “big brands.” In CE and home appliances, we’re talking Sharp, Sony, Sanyo, Samsung, LG, Nintendo, Apple and, of course, Panasonic. In mobile phone , the brands are Nokia, Motorola, LG, Samsung Sony Ericsson and even HTC. For IT, Al-Futtaim sells Intel, Seagate, Toshiba, HP, Acer, Hitachi and Western Digital.

Al Futtaim

C. Gouri Shankar, Business Head Global Trading Div., Al-Futtaim
with TDC Editor-in-Chief Bob Snyder at


“We sell only branded,” notes Shankar. “We have a responsibility to quality in these three areas [CE/Home appliances, IT, Telecom].”
“Although the world is shrinking day by day, our principals are not in every market. And in peak selling season, demand outstrips supply. Product always seems to be in the wrong places at the wrong time. Currency fluctuations are more volatile than years before.”
“So we have a lot of customers and vendors in Europe. CeBIT is wonderful to meet everybody at the same time. 2007 was a turbulent year for everyone. Real traders were not at CeBIT and were getting on with business. This year traffic is good and the quality of attendee is up. We’re seeing the type of customer that’s in it for the long haul and not the quick buck.”
Check out the Al-Futtaim group…

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it" target="_blank">Global trading at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Listening “Large,” Selling the T12 Soundbar

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OK, as a retailer or installer you’ve seen many soundbars now, all with the iPod sticking up like a candle on a birthday cake.

But Orbitsound’s T12 spatial stereo TV soundbar with iPod dock (and subwoofer) comes with a unique selling point that’s both demonstrable and effective at retail.

Other soundbars digitally re-create spatial stereo while the T12 produces spatial sound using its airSOUND™ single point stereo reproduction. 

airSOUND does not produce stereo in way normal “left-right”audio works. Instead it focuses on the original principles of stereo that separates left and right information from the main signal and reproduces this “space” in a form that mixes in the air. (See the maker’s explanation below.) You can stand (or sit) anywhere within the stereo sound field. For positioning you only need to make sure the sides of the soundbar are not obstructed.

T12 can provide your customers both a big screen sound upgrade for flat screen TV or instant iPod station in the home.


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