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>The scale offered by Shenzhen may be the real advantage.
More or less. The local economy is entirely geared towards manufacturing, so there's plenty of capacity for everything. It's the people as much as the product. If you need ten design engineers or 200 trained assembly workers, you can hire them in a couple of days. It's not just PCB manufacture but injection molding, CNC machining, connectors, production fixtures and test equipment. There are hundreds of suppliers of everything, all vying for your business.
Component availability is also a big factor. In the west, a lot of stuff is unobtanium unless you're a large company and can jump through a lot of hoops. In Shenzhen, you can get the latest ARM SoC, a high-res AMOLED or a Sony CMOS biked to your office in a couple of hours.
If you haven't been to Shenzhen, it's hard to get your head around how big it really is. It has more than twice the population of London; the broader metropolitan area has a population of ~50m and Hong Kong is within commuting distance. There are millions of people employed in the electronics industry.
The electronics markets are a geeky fever dream, like something you'd see in a cyberpunk film. Endless labyrinths of trade, thousands of tiny booths selling everything and everything. There's constant hustling everywhere you look. Guys on motorbikes piled high with boxes of components, scything through traffic to sort out an urgent shortage. Kids playing on the floor while their mother counts out huge trays of DRAM chips or MicroSD cards.
It's something you feel in your gut. The frenetic pace, the overwhelming scale. A vast sea of humanity who eat, sleep and breathe the electronics business.