Electronics firms will showcase their latest whizz-bang gadgets, many in some of the smallest computers ever, as they try to push recovery into higher gear this week at Taiwan’s Computex, the world’s No.2 computer fair.
As the line separating PCs and consumer gadgets continues to blur, Computex has come to look less like a computer show and increasingly reflects the PC industry’s diversification into consumer electronics.
The focus this year is likely to be on ultra-portability and wireless connectivity, as consumers demand more mobility from their computing devices.
Portability is nothing new, but has driven developers to make PCs smaller, smarter and more powerful. Next-generation gadgets try to be a jacks-of-all-trades, with features allowing users to do everything from navigating on the road with global positioning systems to surfing the Web over wireless connections.
“One of the biggest selling points this year should be all-in-one and that means media integration and ultra mobility,” said Macqarie Securities analyst Daniel Chang.
At its glitzy booth at Computex, Taiwan’s Asustek Computer Inc. will display a line of smaller PCs, with shock-proof resistance and a camera fixed on the top of a 7-inch touch-screen.
“Our focus at Computex is on easy-to-use laptops,” said an official at the world’s biggest motherboard maker, which is also selling laptops, mobile phones and networking products under its name to win its own share of the fast-growing consumer pie.
Since Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp. joined forces to introduce the ultra mobile PC (UMPC) platform last year, Asustek and other firms, including Samsung and Sony, have cranked out new models to test the water.
Intel will be in town to demonstrate its newest technologies, including multi-core processors, chipsets, UMPC initiatives and WiMAX, a new mobile standard that can seamlessly handle video conferencing, TV viewing and ultra-fast data transmission.
Another theme will be “digital home” and “media centers” that link PCs, printers, set-top-boxes and flat-screen TVs in the living room, bedroom and study through a network.
Acer Inc., Taiwan’s most recognizable tech brand and the world’s No.3 PC maker, has been putting its muscle into the multimedia entertainment market. Besides LCD monitors and TVs, it will launch new laptops, featuring Dolby surround sound at the show.
Some 1,333 local and foreign companies will be crowding the halls of Taipei’s exhibition centre for the June 5-9 show, up slightly from 2006, according to organizers.
They are arriving at a time when the global technology industry is recovering slowly from last year’s slump, caused by high stockpiles due to weaker sales of computers and cellphones.
In Taiwan, top contract chip makers Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd., United Microelectronics Corp. and LCD maker AU Optronics Corp. have expressed optimism over PC demand.
Global PC shipments grew an annual 10 percent to 228.5 million units last year and grew at a faster pace of 11.2 percent in the first quarter of 2007, according to market researcher IDC.
For future growth, new designs and technologies are key drivers even though the full-scale effect from Microsoft’s latest Vista operating system remains to be seen.
One example of a new technology is NAND, a slim form of flash memory with no moving parts that is poised to eventually take over a market once dominated by clunkier hard drives.
iSuppli Corp. predicts that more than half of new laptop PCs will use flash drives for data storage, instead of traditional hard drives, by the fourth quarter of 2009.
But buyers and analysts point out that lower-tech external appearances will continue to play an important part as PC innards become increasingly commoditized.
“The inside of notebooks from various brands … is getting more and more similar,” Bob O’Donnell, an IDC vice president, told a technology forum in Taipei this week.
“How are you going to differentiate and how are you going to add value? It’s this, it’s all about design.”
|copyright © 2007 Reuters. All rights reserved.|