Tue, Mar 03, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Taiwan Mobile launches own netbook

CHALLENGE The telecom service provider is counting on its own-brand netbooks to help it secure 33 percent of the mobile Internet market by the end of this year

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan Mobile Co (台灣大哥大), the nation’s second-biggest telecom operator, is venturing into the own-brand netbook computer market to boost data subscription in the face of falling voice usage.

The company yesterday showcased its first batch of own-brand netbooks made by local electronics maker RoyalTek Co Ltd (鼎天), a joint venture between the world’s top laptop computer maker, Quanta Computer Inc (廣達電腦), and Acer Inc’s (宏碁) mobile phone manufacturing subsidiary E-Ten Information Systems Co (倚天).

Taiwan Mobile is the first local telecom company to tap into the red-hot netbook market with its own-brand product.

“We have been looking into the netbook market for a while. We decided to make our own line in light of satisfactory sales of Acer and Asustek’s models,” chief operating officer Cliff Lai (賴玹五) told a media briefing.

Like its main rivals — the nation’s top telecom company Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) and Far EasTone Telecommunications Co (遠傳電信) — Taiwan Mobile started by offering other netbook brands such as Asustek (華碩) and Acer bundled with its Internet mobile services to boost sales of 3.5G data cards.

The popularity of netbooks could help Taiwan Mobile gain market share in the fast-growing mobile Internet service area, Lai said.

He added that sales of the company’s first own-brand netbooks could help boost its number of mobile Internet subscribers to 250,000 by the end of this year, making it the nation’s top service provider with a 33 percent share of the market.

Taiwan Mobile is also in talks with HTC Corp (宏達電) to sell smartphones running on the Android open-source operating system, which has strong support from Google Inc, Lai said.

“We will consider providing any mobile devices that can boost mobile Internet subscription, including Android-based smartphones. Selling netbooks is just the first step,” Lai said.

Taiwan Mobile’s latest move came in the wake of its lagging performance compared with Chunghwa Telecom and Far Eas­Tone Telecom in the data card area. Taiwan Mobile only had 80,000 data card users last year.

This year, Taiwan Mobile said it aimed to sell more than 50,000 own-brand laptops, as well as continue to push Acer and Asustek bundled netbook services at its outlets.

The telecom company’s new netbook, W101, will be available starting on Friday at a price of NT$6,990 plus a minimum monthly charge of NT$699 for a two-year service contract.

Last year, revenues from Taiwan Mobile’s mobile Internet service jumped 67 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter, while its overall mobile revenues declined 4 percent, the company’s financial statement showed.

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