Thu, Jun 04, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Mitac to launch netbooks in second half of the year

By Elizabeth Tchii  /  STAFF REPORTER

Mitac International Corp (神達), which owns the world’s third-largest portable navigation device (PND) maker — Magellan Navigation Inc — said yesterday it would enter the netbook business next quarter.

The Taipei-based company said its version of the low-cost laptops — the Mio Litepads — would focus more on adding value to customers.

“We are making a global positioning system [GPS]-driven laptop to meet the demands of customers who want location-based services [LBS], 3.5G connectivity, wireless local area network and Bluetooth functionality,” Mitac president Billy Ho (何繼武) said.

The company will first launch an 8.9-inch netbook in the third quarter and then a 12.1-inch model in the fourth quarter. Both models, which will be splash and shock proof, will run on Microsoft’s new Windows 7 operating system.

Ho said Mitac netbooks would be sold through telecommunication carriers and will be available first in the Asia-Pacific region, including Taiwan, then Europe.

The planned introduction of netbooks, as well as other new PND, GPS phone and GPS digital TV models in the second half of the year, is crucial to Mitac, which suffered a sharp year-on-year decline in revenue in the first quarter because of the global financial meltdown.

While business has recovered somewhat in the current quarter, with double-digit growth forecast, this would still represent a steep drop from last year, Ho said.

However, the company is confident the Magellan will help it penetrate the US market, Ho said.

Last year, the company shipped 42 million GPS units, with 34 million shipped to the US.

“One can see the importance of the US market for a GPS-centric company and the logic behind our Magellan purchase,” he said.

With market sentiment improving, Mitac expects revenues in the second half to account for 70 percent of the total for this year. Sales in the first half of the year were affected by sluggish PND sales, which were hit hard by the auto industry downturn.

In addition, the firm’s GPS handset business contracted slightly in the first half because of competition from smartphones that also offer GPS and other Internet-based LBS, Ho said.

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