Photos from Nepal's biggest tech trade show

caninfootside.JPG In mid-January, 400,000 Nepalis gathered at the Bhrikuti Mandap exhibition hall in Kathmandu to see the latest gadgets and technologies. Well, sort of. On its 16th year, CAN InfoTech, the biggest tech trade show in Nepal, displayed 238 stalls boasting everything from the Nokia N81 cell phone to the Sony NW-806 Walkman — both of which hit the US markets in the fall of 2007. But never mind the delay — here's a glimpse at what captured the attention of our fellow geeks across the globe.

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Mobile apps are making headway into Nepal for the first time this year. According to the World Bank, 12% of the population had cell phones in 2007; this is a huge increase from 2000, when the figure was just hitting 3%.

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An 8-terabyte storage device! Nepal's tech sector is by no means anywhere close to ours, but it's growing. 13% of households had TV sets in 2007 (compared to 3% in 2000) and 1.5% use the Internet (compared to 0.2% in 2000). Prices for phone calls and Internet connections are dropping.

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Perhaps as a means to save already-scarce electricity, the Sony booth was lit up by giant dishes made of aluminum foil.

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Laptops for sale were covered in cellophane wrap to prevent dirty fingers from touching them.

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The government's Cyber Crime Cell, which was set up in 2007, investigates Internet-based crimes including child pornography, money laundering, and intellectual property.

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The biggest sign at the convention hall was for the toilet.

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John Hodgman makes his Kathmandu debut on an iMac screen. Apple products are imported directly from Apple Singapore, and are growing in popularity among the educated urban crowd. iMacs and MacBooks are relatively quickly to hit the market here, but there's still no sign of the iPhone — and it could be years before the iPad will get here, says Sanjay Gochha, founder of local tech marketing firm Neoteric Infomatique.

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Buddha Power is a local company that sells backup devices. I just liked the name.

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Generators are huge business in a country with no electricity for 8-16 hours a day. "The main advantage of Nepal is that it has lower operating costs, an English speaking population, and software-skilled manpower," Neoteric's Golchha says. "But we also have inherent problems such as the shortage of power."

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Sony shamelessly displays their 2008 Home Audio catalog on a magazine rack near their giant booth.