Mon, Jan 01, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Electronics firms face white hot demand

NO TIME TO REST With the upcoming launch of Microsoft Corp's Vista operating system, computer sales will remain brisk along with other offerings such as LCD TVs

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Even with the conclusion of the Christmas shopping season in the US and Europe, local electronics firms expect to see their cash registers continue to ring non-stop through Lunar New Year.

"I'm going to buy a global positioning system (GPS) device for myself this Chinese New Year," said Enoch Du (杜全昌), secretary-general of the Taipei Computer Association (台北市電腦公會).

With map guidance available on the portable GPS unit, driving around Taipei will be a breeze, he said.

With annual bonuses to be paid before Lunar New Year in the middle of next month, consumers are the willing targets of 3C (computers, communications and consumer electronics) retailers.

Signs of consumers loosening their purse strings were already apparent last month, when IT Month -- one of the year's most important consumer electronics fairs -- saw vendors reporting brisk sales.

IT Month wraps up after an exhibition in Kaohsiung from Jan. 11 to Jan. 16. There were also exhibitions in Taichung and Tainan.

"The strong business generated by IT Month has not been limited to the expo itself. The spending spree has spilled over to 3C retailers around the country," said Dennis Chen (陳敬宏), vice president of Hewlett-Packard Taiwan Ltd.

The sentiment was echoed by Lin Jun-jian (林俊堅), spokesman of Synnex Technology International Corp (聯強國際), Asia's largest IT product distributor.

"We expect the sales momentum of electronics products to peak in January and February, thanks to companies paying out bonuses and parents giving their children red envelopes for Chinese New Year," Lin said.

Lin forecast that with the upcoming worldwide launch of Microsoft Corp's Vista operating system later this month, computer sales will be brisk -- along with other hot offerings such as liquid-crystal display televisions and mobile phones.

Traditionally, most Taiwanese companies throw banquets and dance parties before Lunar New Year to reward employees for their hard work over the past year.

Enterprises often give away lucrative lucky draw prizes ranging from cash, vouchers, electronics gadgets, or even new cars and stock options.

To cash in on this seasonal opportunity, Synnex recently set up a direct sales team providing companies with the option of purchasing IT products in larger volumes at discounted prices.

Lunar New Year banquets also spell cash to electronics companies such as eRead Technology Co (宜銳科技), which believes that its niche products will be a hot-selling item this year.

"Forget about handsets or personal digital devices that companies always give away. Our newly launched electronics book reader will be the favorite this year," eRead chairman Jack Tsai (蔡東機) said.

The comic-book sized reader, called STAReBOOK, supports document reading in pdf, txt, doc and jpg formats and can double as a MP3 music player. The unit weighs 180g, is 8mm thick and has a 6-inch screen.

A result of 12 months of research and development and a total investment of NT$200 million (US$6.1 million), the device is set to change the way people read, Tsai said.

Launching the STAReBOOK last month was perfect timing to cash in on Taiwan's pre-Lunar New Year spending. The same goes for across the Taiwan Strait, Tsai said.

He is upbeat that total sales of the NT$12,900 readers will hit 5,000 units by next month. The company expects to move 60,000 units by the end of this year.

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