MiTAC International Corp (神達電腦), the world's top aftermarket automotive global positioning system (GPS) maker, is aiming to almost double global shipments of its own-brand GPS devices this year thanks to the demand of new markets, company executives said yesterday.
The company's sales of GPS devices -- under its own "Mio" brand -- are set to hit around 1.6 million units, up from nearly 900,000 units last year, president Billy Ho (何繼武) told reporters on the sidelines of a product launch.
"New markets such as Eastern Europe and Israel will continue to help boost our shipments this year," he said.
For the whole year, combined volumes of original design manufacturing (ODM) and brandname GPS devices -- which include pure navigation devices as well as personal digital assistants (PDAs) and handsets with GPS -- will reach 4 million units, according to Ho.
Total sales for last year were 2.8 million units, nearly triple the 1 million units of a year ago.
To beef up domestic operations and cope with stronger demand, MiTAC plans to set up branches in South Korea and Eastern Europe later this year.
MiTAC -- which inked a pact with South Korea's largest electronics distributor LG International Ltd to carry Mio products in January last year -- is the leader in the PDA market there, according to Ho.
While in Eastern Europe, the company is assessing the best location for an office, with Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic in the running, he said.
MiTAC, which also produces desktop computers, motherboards and servers, branched out into the high-margin GPS-device market in November 2003, unveiling first products under the Mio brand as it searched for areas of new growth.
The company will offer sleeker and more user-friendly GPS devices to entice users. This includes a new electronic discount voucher feature, where users can flash them to enjoy discounts at over 350 restaurants nationwide, said Samuel Wang, president of Mio Technology Ltd (宇達電通), the marketing arm of MiTAC that is charged with selling its Mio gadgets.
MiTAC has expanded its clientele base this year by signing up four new automotive electronics makers to make GPS products for them, Ho said.
The company's previous clients included German GPS giant Medion AG and TomTom International BV.
Meanwhile, MiTAC is gearing up to launch its second mobile phone in China during the second half of the year.
Joining rivals BenQ Corp (明基), Inventec Appliances Corp (英華達) and Dbtel Inc (大霸電子), MiTAC received approval to sell branded handsets in the Chinese market from the authorities in Beijing in October last year.
"The competition in the Chinese handset market is intense and not every player will be able to get a foothold," he said.
Therefore, instead of launching a slew of models to capture market share, MiTAC will differentiate itself by focusing on a few units that target frequent business travelers who fly back and forth across the Taiwan Strait, Ho added.