Wed, Jun 08, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Little new at this year's Computex

ELECTRONICS While new dual-core processors were a highlight, most of the products featured had already been seen at other exhibitions held earlier in the year

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

Despite dubbing itself the world's second largest computer show with a record-high number of visitors, Computex Taipei 2005, which wound up on Saturday, barely impressed visitors due to the absence of novel products, market watchers and buyers said.

"We visited many companies during Computex last week, but basically we didn't find many interesting innovations and most of the companies just showcased products that were sampled out in the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January," said Jonah Cheng (程正樺), assistant vice president at Merrill Lynch Taiwan Ltd's semiconductor research division.

The five-day exhibition attracted 129,947 visitors this year, with the number of buyers up 7.75 percent to 28,254 from last year, according to the Taipei Computer Association (TCA, 台北市電腦公會), co-organizer of Computex. The number of buyers, including local and overseas, was the highest in the past 25 years, the TCA said.

After visiting companies at the show last week, Merrill Lynch's Asia semiconductor team said in a report that downstream original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and chip companies were focused on integrating more functions into mature products as a means to lower costs and stimulate replacement demand.

Personal computer makers, for example, are combining Intel Corp's 945 chipset with high definition audio and advanced graphic chips. Handset makers meanwhile are integrating TV-out or MP3 functions, while consumer OEMs are focused on liquid-crystal-display (LCD) or plasma-display-panel (PDP) TVs, MP3 players, or portable media players, the Merrill Lynch technology team said in a report released on Monday.

Both Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) and United Microelectronics Corp (聯電) are expected to benefit from new products, with LCD TVs and MP3 chips being the major battleground, the report said.

Although dual-core microprocessors made by Intel and Advanced Micro Devices Inc (AMD) were the highlight of the show, it will take a while for the products to enter the market because there is only limited supporting software available at present, Cheng said.

"TV has become the main direction for all electronics product development this year," Cheng said. "In fact, we didn't expect to find killer applications or product surprises at the show."

Simon Hsieh (解建新), CEO and global president of Newegg.com, a US-based online marketer of consumer electronics and information technology, attributed the lack of fresh products to the shortening lifecycles of electronics products and falling margins in the fiercely competitive industry.

With limited funds going toward research and development, companies would rather stake their resources on advancing current product lines instead of new high-risk applications, Hsieh said.

Tatung Co (大同), for instance, was one of the exhibitors to display products that had been unveiled in Germany's CeBit show earlier this year at Computex.

A public relations official at Tatung who did not want to be named defended the company's move as common in the industry.

"It's getting harder and harder to come up with new applications, since many companies in the industry can only integrate various functions," she said.

Tatung demonstrated the "digital home" concept during the show by linking various digital home appliances to bring audio and video features to consumers.

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