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IT retail mania in Singapore

Ross O. Storey | Sept. 14, 2009
Thousands storm Suntec City for digital bargains.

If the economic recovery can be judged on the crowds at an IT expo, then Singapore certainly seems to be on the upturn.

I visited the ComEX IT retail extravaganza at Singapores Suntec City on the weekend which featured 32,000 sq m of exhibit space and some 820 exhibitors over five stories in what was a record for the event. For those who havent been to Singapore, Suntec City is a vast 21st century retail and convention centre complex, complete with escalators that rise several stories. Suntec has many levels and huge rooms, you really need a map to find your way around.

I was gobsmacked at the massive crowds of thousands that turned out. It seemed as though half of Singapores 4.5 million population had turned out. The crowd was  shoulder-to-shoulder throughout and almost claustrophobic. So thick were the tech bargain seekers, the organisers had young men wearing specialised back packs mounted with promotion posters sticking above.

Singaporeans dont keep left

Being 198 centimetres tall, I had a good view, but often had to apologise as people walked into my elbow. A theory I have about Singaporeans was also confirmed. They simply know nothing about keeping left. In my home country Australia, people know to keep to the left on footpaths, in malls and in other crowded situations, which makes for a smooth pedestrian flow, but not here in Singapore. Its every person for themselves and people simply charge ahead, without giving way which leads to crowd mayhem, but everyone seemed calm and accepting. I can only imagine what would happen in the case of any panic.

Mass crowd issues aside, there were certainly some good prices on offer at Comex 2009, great deals with extra freebies and a good dose of retail fever.

Again the Chinese ingenuity with tech gadgets caught my eye. One stall was even offering mini iPods which looked like two-third-sized versions of the real thing, complete with touch screen, two SIM cards and removable batteries, for just S$99 (US$69.50).

Bandit phones abound

Yes, there were numerous China iPhones, known on the Chinese mainland as  shanzhai which translates as bandit phones and I wonder what Apple thinks of these blatant design rip offs which sell for about 10 per cent of what original iPhones do.

Im  saving up for a 24 inch Apple iMaca beautiful machineand I noticed that different vendors were offering the same prices, but with a host of different freebies, including software, peripherals and the like.

Other eye catchers for me were sunglasses with MP3s built-inalthough they were cheap and nasty sunglasses and no one would buy them unless the big names can be convinced to also produce such a combination. There was also a James Bond style pen that I just couldnt resist. It has Philips branded on the side and doubles as a USB memory stick, MP3 player and voice recorder and cost me S$20 (US$14).


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