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Monday, June 6, 2011

Taiwan tech firms challenge iPad with locally designed products

Ralph Jennings of voanews.com writes:

Taiwan's massive high-tech industry has long been synonymous with building gadgets cheaply for foreign companies. But at the country's annual technology convention, locally designed tablet computers are hoping to change that image by challenging Apple's wildly popular iPad.

After decades of making PCs at a discount for more well-known foreign companies, Taiwan firms are using their manufacturing experience to design their own machines.

Following the success of Apple's iPad computer, local firms are now building their own tablet PCs, the slate-like devices that are bigger than phones, but smaller than laptop computers. Computex organizers say Taiwanese brands account for many of the show's 50 tablet exhibitors.

Local firms are still building gadgets for others, but they say a mix of contract and self-branded work helps protect them during recessions. Taiwan's high-tech industry is about one eighth of its GDP, but faces increasing competition from emerging markets such as China and Brazil.

To compete with Apple's global brand, local companies are relying first on their experience in finding cheap but viable components by hunting for deals within Taiwan's giant technology supply chain. The practice gives local manufacturers a unique flexibility to customize PCs for business users, who represent a market not fully tapped by Apple.

Market research firm Gartner still expects iPads to command almost 70 percent of the global tablet market of 69 million sales in 2011, though its lead may shrink by 2015.

Local firms say they still cannot fully compete with Apple's in-house hardware and software designs or with its application store. But beating Apple has become such a big cause in Taiwan that its two best known PC makers, Acer and Asustek, openly market their tablets as being priced close to the iPad but with features such as USB ports that Apple missed.

Richard Ma, a senior vice president with Taiwan's Gigabyte Technology, explains why local firms are becoming more competitive.

He says the contract work has let Taiwan IT firms quickly get established while self-branded PCs come with the high costs of finding sales channels, marketing products and clearing inventory. He says Taiwan firms are good at finding partners and mass producing new breakthroughs in hardware components.

Software remains Taiwan's biggest obstacle, because local developers have always prioritized the production of hardware for other parts of the world. Jamie Lin, co-founder of the Taipei-based venture capital firm appWorks Ventures, sees little progress until software matures.

"In the end, I think it's really about all these tablet makers trying to differentiate their products, because Apple is holding tight to their iOS [operating] system and it's not going to license it to anybody else," Jamie Lin noted.  "If they want to compete with all the other tablet makers, in terms of their product, a lot of it would come from the software, or the customized user experience. If they have the ability to build that user interface on top of their tablets, right now we're not seeing it yet."

This year two top government-funded technology research institutes focused on Taiwan's global competitiveness announced they are focusing on designing new software, starting with tablet applications. Taiwanese PC brands will be able to license the institute's applications to make their devices more competitive

Originally published on voanews.com
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Opinion Articles

Last week at The Fonecast: 10th March 2014

Bye-bye Barcelona, hello Hanover

Mark Bridge writes:

As one show closes, so another show opens.

It’s now more than a week since we bid a sad farewell to Mobile World Congress 2014 – I imagine hotel rooms for 2nd to 5th March 2015 are already being booked – but there’s now CeBIT in Germany to look forward to. Prime Minister David Cameron kicked things off last night with a speech that talked about UK-German partnerships, more funding for research around the ‘Internet of Things’ and the development of 5G technology.

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WiFi technology, problems and solutions

explained by Professor Andrew Nix from the University of Bristol

In this presentation, which was originally given as part of the ‘Multimedia Content Delivery onto Mobile Platforms’ session at Mobile World Congress 2014, Professor Andrew Nix from the University of Bristol explains many of the often-forgotten truths about WiFi service.

If you’re an IT manager, working in a mobile phone shop, looking at tech product design or simply want to get the most from your mobile phone, Professor Nix has plenty of practical advice in this 20-minute video clip.

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Key themes from Mobile World Congress 2014

by Andrew Skinner, Relationship Director of the Technology, Media & Telecoms team at Barclays

The GSMA reported that 85,000 visitors attended Mobile World Congress this year, breaking all previous records for the show.

Andrew Skinner, Relationship Director of the Technology, Media & Telecoms team at Barclays, reflects on his time in Barcelona and some of the key themes to come out of this year’s show.

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Beer o’clock

Beer o’clock

at Mobile World Congress 2014

James Rosewell writes:

I noticed a new phenomenon at Mobile World Congress this year: Beer O’Clock. Come 5pm Monday through Wednesday, companies with larger booths would break out the Cerveza, Vino, Cava and a small number of Orange juices. All very sociable and fun… until the music started.

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Last week at The Fonecast: 3rd March 2014

The more things change, the more they stay the same

Mark Bridge writes:

So, that’s another Mobile World Congress in the bag. Yes, it was bigger than ever. Just like last year. Just like the year before, too.

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