Staff writer, with CNA

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 - Page 14

Xiaomi boss plans Taiwan visit

Lei Jun (雷軍), founder of China’s start-up mobile phone manufacturer Xiaomi Technology (小米科技), is set to visit Taipei on Wednesday as part of the company’s new global marketing campaign.

Lei is to discuss features built into the new Xiaomi 2S handset during a press conference in Taipei, where the 44-year-old company chairman will also showcase the development of the MIUI V5 software used in the mobile phone, the company said in an e-mail.

Far EasTone Telecommunications Co (遠傳電信), the nation’s third-largest telecom operator, began accepting pre-orders on April 9 for the Xiaomi 2S handset, which carries a retail price of NT$9,499 and is scheduled to be available to consumers later this month.

Founded in 2010, Xiaomi has been successful in evoking Apple-like adoration for its moderately priced high-end smartphones by mimicking the US firm’s marketing strategy of attaching an aura of exclusivity around its devices.

On Thursday, Lei said in an interview with the Chinese-language Economic Daily News that his company seeks to sell at least 15 million phones this year, more than double those sold last year.

To achieve this goal, Xiaomi will seek more cooperation with Taiwanese suppliers while expanding current partnerships with assemblers Inventec Corp (英業達) and Foxconn Technology Group (富士康科技集團), the newspaper said.

Taiwan, Canada to meet today

Taiwan and Canada are set to hold their annual economic consultation in Ottawa today to discuss trade issues.

The Taiwanese delegation to the one-day meeting will be led by Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Cho Shih-chao (卓士昭), the Ministry of Economic Affairs said, but it declined to give any details of the meeting’s agenda.

Cho’s Canadian counterpart is expected to head Ottawa’s delegation to the meeting.

In an interview with the Central News Agency earlier this year, Canadian Trade Office in Taipei executive director Kathleen Mackay said the topics to be discussed at this year’s meeting could include an agreement on avoiding double taxation, investment issues, cooperation in science and technology, and expanding imports of Canadian beef products to Taiwan.

The annual economic consultation meeting serves as a platform for the discussion of matters such as market access, investment and other forms of economic engagement.

EVA eyes Star Alliance benefits

EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) on Saturday said it will become a full member of the Star Alliance network on June 18, which will allow the airline to offer its customers access to a global network of more than 1,300 destinations.

EVA Air and Star Alliance signed an agreement in Taipei last year to mark EVA’s acceptance as a future member of the world’s largest airline network.

Star Alliance chief executive officer Mark Schwab attended the signing ceremony.

Star Alliance, SkyTeam Alliance and Oneworld are the three largest passenger airline strategic alliances in the world.

The nation’s largest airline China Airlines (CAL, 華航) officially joined SkyTeam Alliance in September 2011, becoming its 15th member.

Star Alliance was established in May 1997 and has been rapidly expanding its network in the Asia-Pacific region in recent years.

Yen impact may be short-term

The decline of the Japanese yen may have only a short-term effect on competition among Taiwanese, Japanese and South Korean mobile phone brands, industry analysts said on Saturday.

The most crucial factor will be product differentiation, rather than the Japanese currency, the analysts said.

Dwindling sales of Apple Inc’s products and a decline in its business turnover has affected its global supply chains, allowing the world’s smartphone giants — South Korea’s Samsung, Taiwan’s HTC Corp (宏達電) and Japan’s Sony — to wage war in the market.

Caizischool Co Ltd vice president Kevin Lin (林成蔭) said that given the recent sharp decline of the yen, HTC profits in Japan could be affected due to foreign exchange losses.

However, the impact is likely to be limited because large enterprises usually have their own strategies in place for hedging foreign exchange risks, he said.