Wed, Sep 01, 2004 - Page 10 News List

BenQ working to regain lost handset market share

CELLPHONES The company plans to release several new models this fall and blamed delayed rollouts of new phones for market share losses recorded in July

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

BenQ Corp (明基電通), Taiwan's largest mobile phone maker by shipment, hopes to regain third place position on its home turf by boosting its handset portfolio, a company executive said yesterday.

In the own-brand business, BenQ in July relinquished its long-held third-place position in the nation's mobile phone market to Inventec Appliances Corp (英華達), which owns the OKWAP handset brand.

Danny Yao (姚鴻洲), managing director of BenQ's Taiwan branch, blamed a delay in launching new models for the market setback.

"Two of our grayscale models were being phased out of the market at the time, while we were still cooking up new low-end cell phones to fill the gap," Yao said.

BenQ also makes cellphones for Motorola on a contract basis and is expected to start supplying Nokia, with shipment of 1.5 million handsets by the end of 2004. BenQ aims to ship 16 million handsets overall this year, up from 13 million last year.

Yao made the remarks during a press conference yesterday to launch the company's latest model, the A500, a clamshell with a built-in 0.3 mega-pixel camera. The rollout was more than two months behind the original schedule, the company said.

"We'll make it up by accelerating the push for fresh models later this year. In September alone, we'll have four models on the market, including one high-range camera phone with resolution enhanced to 1.3 megapixels," Yao said.

"September will be a crucial point for us to regain lost ground. There will be a confrontation," he said.

With its improving handset lineup, BenQ aims to recapture the 12 percent market share it had in the past three quarters, he said. In July, its market position weakened to a rare low of 9.6 percent.

The 9.6 percent figure brought its market share slightly below Inventec's 9.7 percent. Inventec's figure was an improvement from the 8 percent share it held over the past several quarters.

Despite the market share setback, BenQ is confident it will hit its sales target of 1 million cellphones for 2004. The Taiwan market is expected to total 6 million phones in 2004.

In the first eight months of the year, BenQ sold 600,000 cellphones to local consumers.

Commenting on the battle between the two local brands, Bruce Chiu (邱致忠), vice president of Taiwan's biggest handset chain store Senao International Co (神腦國際), said there will be a head-to-head struggle.

BenQ and Inventec will take similar market shares of 12 percent, respectively, possibly at the expense of Dbtel Inc (大霸電子), Chiu said.

The market share of local brands will remain capped by a 30 percent ceiling, as international handset vendors have a firm hold on the remaining 70 percent, Chiu said.

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