Computex 2008 was the largest ever

June 9, 2008 // 4:59 p.m.

Tags: #2008 #computex #computex-2008 #taitra #taiwan

"This year’s Computex was the largest ever," announced Mr. Walter Yeh, Vice President of TAITRA, Taiwan’s trade and industry body, during the closing ceremony for this year's Computex tradeshow.

"We have a five percent increase to 33,317 recorded visitors (not including the public open day), as well as more non-Taiwanese exhibitors as well," he added.

This year’s focus was on “Green IT” with many companies promoting green products, or ones that used lower energy than what had been previously popular. In addition, he remarked that the importance of Computex as an international launch event was increasing as Intel announced Atom here, Nvidia launched Tegra, Acer launched its Aspire One sub-notebook, we saw the updated Asus Eee PCs and the MSI Wind; all showing compact computing and the ultra mobile platform for PCs are popular trends in this year’s Computex.

Intel even dedicated an entire hall to its WiMAX partners in order to promote its Internet-anywhere technology. After talking to Intel about the progression of worldwide WiMAX rollout earlier last week, it was unsettling to find that Europe and the UK were one of the least interested in the technology – it will see greater adoption in the States and Asia (Korea most notably) long before we get it.

For those unaware, the Taiwanese Government recently changed leadership from a mostly independence seeking to a mildly pro-Republic of China approach. This has caused cross-trade growth to increase, but also meant that Taiwanese might lose jobs as companies move to China where it is simply cheaper to operate.

We asked Mr. Yeh how he felt about these political changes shifting the focus in Taiwanese industry and bit-tech was told that more cross-trade traffic has changed the way the Taiwanese work a bit with the new Government, as TAITRA has seen increases visitors from the Chinese mainland already this year. However, he was not going to attribute the government policy to this directly – just that Taiwanese industry spoke for itself and it was business as usual.

Given that Taiwanese industry is changing away from the traditional manufacturing into world leaders in some electrical and engineering areas, that the industry was becoming more innovative and brand orientated like the Japanese and Korean technology industries. We asked if this has affected the Taiwan job market and has it seen a large immigration of skilled workers from other countries? Mr. Yeh confirmed that it has had a negative influence initially (he didn’t state when this change was), but it’s changing into a service industry (much like the UK has seen) and manufacturing is constantly being farmed out to the cheapest East Asian country: Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and China because it’s cheaper to do there.

He did admit that there has been some immigration to fill the needs however this is no different from when Taiwan became a large industrial country in the first place. As far as we understand it the education system is still not specifically designed around “Innovation” here, in comparison the European and American systems teach people to create more for themselves in all stages of learning; however, in Taiwan (and other parts of East Asia) it has been predominantly on learning lots of fine detail and reciting it, rather than necessarily being as creative. Both approaches have their pros and cons, but it might not fit well for some of the Taiwanese industry so much in the future - this is good news for the rest of the world with such skills though, and with the growing dominance of China in world markets it might be worth teaching Mandarin in our own schools so we can compete effectively as well.

Branded business is becoming more and more important for the Taiwanese rather than just manufacturing and OEM/ODM (background) companies work to other brands. This is true for many companies like Acer, BenQ, D-Link and Asus for example, but Taiwan still has to shake the stigma of “Made in Taiwan” (or if you want to be very politically incorrect, Made in China) in relation to poor quality. “Made in Japan” or even “Made in South Korea” to a certain extent typically yields the reader into thinking that the product is of automatic higher quality and the Taiwanese will continue to have a difficult time re-educating these preconceptions.

From a UK point of view, what specifically worries us is that the new emerging markets like Russia and eastern Europe are huge in comparison to the UK, which has been a very important part of Europe, even if it is dwarfed by the German market. Companies focusing on these emerging large markets might make the UK a lower priority as distribution to the UK costs more for respectively less gain. We haven’t yet seen this, thankfully, but it will be worth trying to see if UK product design needs are eventually put behind Russian ones.

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