Shenzhen: The Silicon Valley of Hardware

2016 ,    »  -   27 Comments
Ratings: 9.15/10 from 239 users.

The center of the technology world may not lie in California's Silicon Valley, but in the bustling marketplace of Huaqiangbei, a subdistrict of Shenzhen in China. This is where curious consumers and industry insiders gather to feast their eyes and wallets on the latest software, hardware, gadgetry, and assorted electronic goods. It's also the setting for the new documentary from WIRED UK titled Shenzhen: The Silicon Valley of Hardware.

At the very start the film sets the scene to this fascinating technology mecca. A city populated by 20 million people, Shenzhen is the setting where advancement is most likely to originate at speeds that can't be replicated in the States. The city's vibrant and inventive tech work force takes over when the innovations of Silicon Valley become stagnant. The revolution may have started in the States, but its evolution is occurring in China. Working in collaboration, Shenzhen laborers craft unique upgrades and modifications to everything from laptops to cell phones. Their efforts then immigrate and influence the adoption of new products in other regions of the world.

The infrastructure by which this is made possible is known as the 'Maker movement'. In developer conferences and Maker exhibition fairs, tech geeks are encouraged to share their ideas freely with colleagues in the hopes that more open collaborations will form grander innovations. The film highlights how these attitudes stand in sharp contrast to the Western world where communications are secretive, monopolies are the norm and proprietorship is sacred.

However, there are challenges faced by Shenzhen in maintaining their edge in the industry. While widely acknowledged as pioneers, Shenzhen's prominence has faltered as the remainder of China has proven successful in their attempts to catch up. Adding to the frustrations, the government has interceded and moved manufacturing bases outside of the city. Meanwhile, figures from the world of investment financing have moved into the equation, and threatened to stifle creativity by imposing a more closed and impenetrable mode of operations.

Shenzhen: The Silicon Valley of Hardware gives us an insider's perspective on a system of creative collaboration that ultimately informs all of our lives.

Directed by: Jim Demuth

More great documentaries

27 Comments / User Reviews

    Pam Allee
  1. Pam Allee

    What's wrong with rice paddies?

  2. J Edwards The King of Kingdoms
  3. J Edwards The King of Kingdoms

    China's rise in population and economic growth is a once in a century phenomenon, just wait and see it all fall.

  4. dj
  5. dj

    golly,the first two 'constructive' comments are exactly the sort my MIL & father-in-law would make...

  6. Robert Schafer
  7. Robert Schafer

    Wonderful portal into the new China and the possibility for a new economic paradigm. One that likely will not supplant what is in the West but one which will bring to the world , as well as the West, greater economic freedom and possibility. One that is now still nascent and burgeoning. one grouping, militating and competitively grasping for a play in the future. I hope its influence of open source and sharing is ever more embraced by the by China, the World and hopefully pushes increasingly away the main stream entrenched, elite, and established order in the West . All the best to Shenzhen.

  8. Edward Oyugi
  9. Edward Oyugi

    This is stupid propaganda for neo-liberal apologists. China would not be where it is if it were not for centralised economic planning

  10. charley
  11. charley

    Awesome, intimidating to me, not my preference..... My fear is the same as for much of the world, it's happening as a result of debt and will suffer in the next 'adjustment'..... So many people......

  12. Stern
  13. Stern

    Shenzhen, a shiny new city built on the backs of low paid, over worked, and underage migrant workers. It would have been nicer to see something more balanced instead of this propaganda.

  14. KsDevil
  15. KsDevil

    The US went through the same process. A host of various individuals and small groups taking technology and innovating off that and creating a demand for supporting manufacturing.
    Then came the greed and the hording and control. Corporations became monoliths of product management that bought innovation rather than created it. Corporations became service companies and are slowly dying.
    China is just repeating the process and, it sounds like, they are heading for the same end.

  16. Robert Schafer
  17. Robert Schafer

    Living in silicon valley all my life I have seen some dramatic changes. It was once the valley of hearts delight covered with prune,apricot, cherry, and walnut orchards. Today not an acre of orchard can be found anywhere. It took my life time, 70 years for this transformation.
    Even today you find few building more than 4 stories tall. The valley is mostly a sprawl of 2 story apartments, R&D buildings and single family homes. Shenzhen was rice patties 30 years ago. Now it is a City that when you turn around on your heals you see nothing but high rise buildings. It takes in the valley 5 years to build a single building maneuvering through all the government hurdles. In that time the Chinese are building Cities.....and they are beautiful making our vaulted Silicon valley look like a cow town. It is not only the pace of their building that is vibrant their technology is as well. They now have the worlds fastest super computer not us. An R&D sector is symbiotic to a manufacturing one. It is out of the interplay between them springs much technological evolution. In the Valley here almost all of our manufacturing has been shipped overseas. Who do you think is benefiting most from this? Increasingly America is slipping into decline. Like Rome we are living inceasingly off the world. Our trade imbalance is more than 5 billion a year. We are printing money and living off debt to survive at over 1.5 trillion a year under Obama. The Roman were able to rapaciously rob, plunder, tax, and exploit their world for over 500 years. With our economic model that increasingly looks like theirs, how long do you think we will last?

  18. Robert Schafer
  19. Robert Schafer

    rev "our trade deficit is more than 500 billion a year"

  20. John Loft.
  21. John Loft.

    As another of 79.5 having returned to home town in England after 25 years in Asia and earlier travel world wide. I can't help but agree with you the outlook for the future appears more dire than at any other period in history. Try as I might cannot envisage it lasting more than another half century, much to my greatest sorrow.

  22. Fred
  23. Fred

    For as much "great" technology comes out of China, twice as much worthless crap floods the market. It was a much better state of affairs when Japan was the technology leader.

  24. bananajihad
  25. bananajihad

    the problem with people who think china will have suffer the same fate as US is , china 's plan for world domination is not militarized , its ECONOMICAL , Di*kheads!

  26. Johny
  27. Johny

    When there's no blacks to hold you back there's prosperity.

    If china had blacks it would never have worked out.

  28. Dr. Race
  29. Dr. Race

    Johny - Your comment about blacks is not true and unrealistic.
    Blacks fight in civil war that made the America you know. Without the blacks, your ass was governed by the Uk. And without blacks you would never be born, because white ppl are albino race... Long live China and Shenzhen ! Great documentary.. life is not fair anyways.

  30. xhuma
  31. xhuma

    it would be nice if america and china and the whole off europe were to go to war, so that us africans and latinas can develop and catch up

  32. Rob
  33. Rob

    Henry Ford himself have to fight someone who had patented "the car" idea. Lucky for us all, he won the legal battle.
    Patents are good, but sometimes restrain the advance pace of the world.
    Maybe the protected idea period should be shorter.

  34. suprscot aka scotspeed
  35. suprscot aka scotspeed

    let's see... so far, out of 122 who have rated this, this feature is rated @ 9.25 stars. impressive.
    thus, i expected to read reviews lauding on how great, amazing, informative, etc. instead, i read (17) comments that were either flat or negative. naturally, my curiosity is piqued.
    now as i start to watch it not knowing what to expect, it feels like election night, 2016.
    was this comment helpful? that's what i thought.

  36. dhanesh
  37. dhanesh

    Being small and unorganised is better than to become a multi-billion conglomerate. Innovation happens there so quick and organic, than these corporations sitting on piles of red tapes' and petty ego politics.

  38. Scrote
  39. Scrote

    TRUMP is on the way!!

  40. Ruprecht
  41. Ruprecht

    thanks to all the compromised secrets, patents and blueprints hacked by the chinese state they have floated to the top of tech heap using cheap labour

  42. George
  43. George

    Watching Chinese kids design the next generation of video games that American kids will play while they live in their parents basement. It seems like only yesterday that we were the leaders in innovation and technology.

  44. Jose Erickson
  45. Jose Erickson

    So cool. I love the spirit of innovation of China. big kudos to my Chinese friends.

  46. Nathan
  47. Nathan

    FYI, Shenzhen also has many huge parks, art galleries, a growing music scene, and a beach town with coral reefs. It even has a national park with spectacular views of green islands as well as the flourishing city. And when you want a break you can travel in a few minutes to Hong Kong or Guangzhou.

  48. Thero Pilane
  49. Thero Pilane

    we Chinese succeed because no white devils were here with their greed and obsessive possessive behaviour. no wonder Africans and Latinas cant progress, its because of white devils

  50. China Mike
  51. China Mike

    I lived and worked five years in mainland China from 2001 to 2006. Shenzhen was an hour train ride away.
    They call it "Second Wife City", as many Hong Kong businessmen go there, and set up a mistress in an apartment, usually known to the wife back home (this is not uncommon anywhere in China).
    When I was there, they were just building the Walmart distribution center, as well as FedEx building a new airport. Starbucks were popping up everywhere, and KFC, McDonalds and Circle K were there too.
    I lived in Guangzhou (you would know it as Canton--the capital city of Guangdong Province and the heart of Cantonese culture). Hong Kong got its start from Guangzhou, as the Cantonese traders in the 1800s sent their 'first sons' and nephews to the newly formed Hong Kong (it had been a sleepy little fishing village, much like Shenzhen) to assist in hiring workers for the foreign traders. These young men would form the basis of the Hong Kong Triads.

  52. lilaanandadas
  53. lilaanandadas

    Today I back the market with food , and could see this wonder full message of Israel. Thank you and the food and knowledge stay as soon fulfill godlike to his company.

Leave a comment / review: