By bundling brand-new elements such as leather covers and artwork with their gadgets, local technology firms have been injecting innovative ideas into their products in the hope of boosting their brand image.
But the high price tags of these flashy items could make them beyond the reach of average consumers, market watchers said.
BenQ Corp (明基), Taiwan's top handset maker, unveiled on Oct. 18 two models of its 17-inch liquid-crystal-display (LCD) monitor, the FP785+, with back cover designs featuring Chinese paintings by renowned Italian artist Guiseppe Castiglione.
PHOTO: WANG YI-HUNG, TAIPEI TIMES
In a bid to attract male and female customers, one model depicts a battlefield background showing spears and horses, while the other highlights the beauty of flowers.
"With the introduction of the FP785+, electronic products are no longer icy and lifeless," said Hank Horng (
The monitors are sold on a per-order basis, and each model has a limited quantity of 1,300 units worldwide. A total of 400 units has been allocated for the local market.
This is not BenQ's first attempt to fuse art and technology.
In 2003, the company launched a notebook series, the Joybook 8000, which depicted the profoundness of Chinese culture with laptop covers that included cursive calligraphy based on a masterpiece from the Tang Dynasty.
But these "crossover" products do not come cheap, as BenQ has to pay royalties to the National Palace Museum for the right to use the Castiglione paintings on its monitors.
People who want to put the FP785+ in their study rooms will have to spend NT$15,000 (US$454).
The price is nearly double that of a common high-end 17-inch LCD monitor, which generally sells for approximately NT$8,000.
Only computers with larger screens, such as 19 inches, sell above the NT$10,000 mark.
But BenQ believes that its esthetic monitors will have no trouble attracting art-loving customers.
"There is a serial number and a certificate for each unit. We are pushing them in limited volume to entice buyers," Horng said.
In fact, "crossover" and "fusion" elements for portable computer designs have become increasingly popular in recent years.
Acer Inc, the world's fourth-largest personal computer maker, debuted in 2003 its first notebook sporting a Ferrari schema with a logo of the famous Italian auto maker's leaping stallion near the keyboard.
Smaller rival Asustek Computer Inc (
It signed a deal with Italian sports car maker Lamborghini SpA in January to design and sell notebooks bearing both the Asustek and Lamborghini names.
"The limited editions of Lamborghini notebooks are for individuals who are into tasteful collections," said Asustek sales director Kevin Lin (
He claimed that its stunning NT$108,000 price tag had not scared users away, and that instead the product had received rave reviews from luxury-car fans, top-level executives as well as individuals who are attracted by fine industrial designs.
All 5,000 limited units of the Lamborghini laptops were sold out shortly after being launched in July, he said.
Another model, the S6, is boasting a leather cover, jeweled hinge and polished keyboard.
Every piece of leather is handpicked and embellished onto the aluminum body, with final products subjected to rigorous quality tests such as heat, oil and sweat resistance, Asustek said.
These leather laptops are not sold in limited quantity, but the company will continue to catch buyers' eyes with the addition of new colors in the future, Lin said.
With the exquisite S6, Asustek says it intends to break into the Japanese market, which has long been dominated by domestic brands.
To Tung Cheng-che (
He was one of the early birds who obtained BenQ's FP785+, the battleground scene version.
An earlier version of the FP785+ caught his attention about a year ago, but he decided that now is a good time to make the purchase as the new monitor comes with improved specifications.
"I am always into something artistic with fine quality. I like Castiglione's painting and the portability of the monitor," he said.
While acknowledging the trend of these crossover products to boost a company's image, market watchers are doubtful that the hefty price tags can make such merchandise appealing to people from all walks of life.
"By launching these fashionable products, vendors are trying to maintain their image by letting consumers aware of their technological capabilities," said Amy Teng (
The economy of scale for those products is small and therefore they will not overtake mainstream products, which are sold in massive quantities, she added.
Instead, she said, users will think of the superior quality of such products and then opt for the company's less expensive ones.
What matters most for consumers is getting the best performance at the most affordable price, she said. "After all, they are the ones who need to dig into their pockets for a product and have to justify the costs."
‘BIG LOSS’: This year might see the last generation of Huawei’s Kirin chips, as their production would stop next month because they are made using US technology Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co (華為) is running out of processor chips to make smartphones due to US sanctions and would be forced to stop production of its own most advanced chips, a company executive has said, in a sign of growing damage to Huawei’s business from US pressure. Huawei, one of the biggest producers of smartphones and network equipment, is at the center of US-Chinese tension over technology and security. Washington last year cut off Huawei’s access to US components and technology, and those penalties were tightened in May, when the White House barred vendors worldwide from using US
CORPORATE SCANDAL: Cathay Life has invested NT$13.3 billion in Bank Mayapada since 2015, but the latest loss of NT$8.8 billion has completely written off its investment Cathay Life Insurance Co (國泰人壽) yesterday said it would recognize an investment loss of NT$8.8 billion (US$298.1 million) in Indonesia’s Bank Mayapada Internasional Tbk PT due to concerns about the lender’s operations amid a corporate scandal. The company said it would revise its earnings result for June, from a net profit of NT$6.52 billion to a net loss of NT$520 million, its first monthly loss over the past 17 months. After booking an investment loss of NT$5.2 billion in Bank Mayapada earlier this year, Cathay Life has so far recognized total investment losses of NT$14 billion in the lender, executive vice president
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) yesterday reported that revenue last month expanded 25 percent annually, but fell 12.8 percent month-on-month to NT$105.96 billion (US$3.59 billion). In the first seven months of this year, the chipmaker’s revenue surged 33.6 percent to NT$727.26 billion, compared with NT$544.46 billion a year earlier. TSMC has said it aims to grow its revenue by more than 20 percent this year. The company has since May 15 stopped taking new orders from Huawei Technologies Co (華為), its second-biggest customer after Apple Inc, due to the US’ restrictions on exports containing US technologies. TSMC has no plans to
INCREASING PRESSURE: Pegatron chief financial officer Louise Wu said the merger would allow them to be more flexible when meeting customer needs Pegatron Corp (和碩), an Apple Inc assembly partner, yesterday said that it would fully absorb metal casing subsidiary Casetek Holdings Ltd (鎧勝) in a NT$14.5 billion (US$490.93 million) deal to improve the companies’ competitiveness in the phone assembly supply chain. When Pegatron and Casetek suspended trading earlier in the day, speculation swirled that a possible purchase by China’s Luxshare Precision Industry Co (立訊精密) might be in the cards, but the announcement of the merger dispelled any conjecture. The board of directories of each company agreed that Pegasus Ace Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pegatron, would purchase Casetek in a reverse triangular