Last year, 23m flat-screen television sets were sold in Japan. This year, according to AU Optronics, the third biggest flat panel maker in the world, there may only be 12m unit sold.

Impact from the earthquake and tsunami? The spirit of jishuku, or self-restraint, sweeping through Japanese consumers? Neither, says Paul Peng, executive vice-president of AUO. Rather, it is the end of the Y290bn ‘eco-point‘ stimulus programme that is threatening TV demand in Japan. Read more

Well, that didn’t take long. JT Wang, Acer chairman who is now running the world’s second biggest PC company after its board ousted Gianfranco Lanci, has taken his first step in transforming the company.

Less than a week after the boardroom shakeup, Acer has a new image – literally. The company on Monday unveiled a new logo, replacing the previous version that had been in use for the past decade. Read more

Gianfranco Lanci’s departure from Acer was as harsh as it was abrupt. The (now former) chief executive was effectively told to leave after two bad quarters. Prior to that, he delivered stellar growth for six years as president and three as chief executive.

There is already talk that Mr Lanci was being made a scapegoat. Read more

If there was still any doubt that events have taken a definite turn for the worse for PC makers since the end of last year, February revenue numbers from the world’s biggest contract manufacturers should put them to rest.

Hon Hai, maker of Apple products (and also desktops for Dell), saw revenues fall by 18 per cent month-on-month. Taiwan’s Compal and Quanta, the top two contract notebook makers, saw revenues decline by 18 per cent and 22 per cent, respectively, compared to January. All came in well below analysts’ expectations. Read more

Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC clearly did not take Chinese New Year off. On the first day after public holidays ended, HTC announced it had made two investments that could expand its online offerings.

The first is buying a US$40m stake in OnLive, the company offering console-style games over the internet. The second is a GBP30m acquisition of Saffron Digital, a London-based mobile video specialist. Read more

Powerchip, Taiwan’s biggest D-Ram company, said on Monday it was exiting the commodity PC D-Ram market in favour of making more specialised chips used in mobile computing devices such as tablets and smartphones.

Frank Huang, chairman, said his company would wind down its business of selling PC D-Ram chips under the Powerchip brand. Instead, Powership would become a contract manufacturer of PC D-Ram chips for long-time partner Elpida of Japan, the world’s third biggest D-Ram company. Read more

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world’s biggest contract chipmaker, has for the first time laid out its roadmap for moving to bigger silicon discs to drive down chip manufacturing costs.

The world’s biggest chipmaker said on Thursday that it plans to have a trial production line using 18-inch wafers ready by 2013 or 2014. Full production would begin in 2015 or 2016. Read more

 Taiwan’s Asus, whose Eee PC introduced the concept of netbooks to the world, has been closely watched over the past year for any signs that tablets were hurting netbook sales.

Asus, however, has said it remain dedicated to netbooks (while also introducing its own tablets and e-readers this year) and vice-president Samson Hu on Wednesday offered a cautiously upbeat prognosis on the future of the mini-notebooks. Read more

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world’s biggest contract chipmaker, and Nvidia, the graphics chipmaker, on Thursday announced they have together produced 1 billion GeForce graphics processors. An impressive milestone, but it comes at a time when winds of change are blowing through both the contract chipmaking and the graphics card industry. Read more

For a sign of how quickly touchscreens are gaining in popularity on devices ranging from smartphones and tablets to all-in-one PCs, one need look no further than the recent fortunes of Taiwan’s Wintek, one of the world’s biggest suppliers of touchscreen modules. Read more

Every time a new category of mobile device emerges, network operators have sought to grab a bigger slice of the pie by cutting out branded manufacturers and selling their own-branded gadgets. The first Android-based smartphone, for example, was manufactured by Taiwan’s HTC but was better known as the T-Mobile G1.

It was therefore only a matter of time before this dynamic was extended to tablets. Taiwan’s Vibo Telecom, a 3G operator with 1.8 million subscribers, was among the first to take that step when it launched its 7-inch, Android-based Vibo Vpad this month. Read more

Given how much consumers seem to resent donning a pair of glasses to enjoy 3D content on televisions screens, manufacturers around the world are working hard towards the day when special eyewear is no longer needed.

That day just got closer with Taiwan’s AU Optronics, one of the world’s biggest flat-panel producers, announcing on Wednesday a glasses-less, all-angle viewing 3D panels. Read more

What Acer’s clear.fi does is, unfortunately for their marketing people, not easy to explain clearly. We took a shot at doing so when Acer first announced it in May, and on Friday it was JT Wang, Acer chairman’s turn at the world’s number two PC maker’s third quarter results conference.

Clear.fi, which automatically sets up a local area network between Acer devices, is intended to make it easy for users to access their photos and videos across different Acer products. It is such a big part of Acer’s new push to add software and services to their core hardware offerings that it will be installed on every single device Acer ships starting next year. Read more

Six phone models and 20 months after they joined forces, the smartphone alliance between Asus, the Taiwanese computer maker, and Garmin, the US global positioning device company, is over – at least in its original form.

The two companies on Tuesday announced a new mode of cooperation. Instead of jointly developing Garmin Asus branded phones, Garmin will now only provide its navigation software to Asus, on an exclusive basis for the Android platform. Phones from the Taiwanese company, the world’s fifth-biggest PC maker, will from now on be Asus-branded in front, with a “Garmin Navigation” logo on the back. Read more

By Jane Rickards in Taipei

Samsung Electronics foresees an oversupply of dynamic random access memory (D-Ram) chips in the fourth quarter of this year or the first quarter of next year if the PC market continues to slow, marking the latest twist in a tortuous saga of gluts and shortages. Read more

The outlook for consumer PC sales for the rest of the year is getting murkier and murkier. A drop-off in US sales in July, followed by continued weakness in early August despite the traditionally bountiful back-to-school season, has already started ringing alarm bells among analysts.

 

Now there’s additional evidence, from the world’s biggest notebook casing manufacturer, that any quick uplift in end demand is unlikely . Ju Teng makes the outer shell of a notebook – a manufacturing process that involves more than 300 steps and 400 different materials – for all the world’s top PC brands.

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Google’s momentum in smartphones is not likely to stop at just overtaking Apple’s iPhone in terms of global sales, according to analysts from Taipei-based Digitimes Research, who are predicting that Android sales will jump to number two above Research In Motion’s BlackBerry before the end of the year.

Gartner, the research group, last week said Android’s global share in smartphones had jumped from 1.8 per cent a year ago to 17.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2010.  This put it ahead of Apple’s iOS operating system, which had a 14.2 per cent share, but still behind RIM’s 18.2 per cent global market share.  Read more

Part of the charm of HTC, the fast-growing Taiwanese smartphone company, is that it strives to maintain an air of eager-to-please humbleness – or as its marketing tagline goes, of being “quietly brilliant” – even as it climbs through the ranks of the world’s biggest smartphone makers.
So it was a bit of a surprise when Cheng Hui-ming, chief financial officer, bawled out an analyst during the quarterly results conference call on Thursday for asking what seemed a rather innocuous question. Read more

MediaTek is going decidedly upscale. The Taiwanese company, the biggest supplier of mobile phone chips to China, was until a year ago still best known as the enabler of gray market ‘bandit phones’ that flooded Chinese and other emerging markets.Within the past year, however, MediaTek has increasingly sold its chips to top-tier international phone brands such as Samsung and LG, and expanded its repertoire to include an advanced third-generation chip for smartphones. On Tuesday it announced its next step – licensing fourth-generation LTE technology from Japan’s NTT Docomo.

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Are the seeds already being sown for the next technology down cycle?  Prospects of a downturn seem remote, given how strong demand for consumer electronics, PCs, and smartphones remain, and how major tech manufacturers are looking forward to a second wave of demand from long-suppressed corporate IT spending.

A new report by Standard and Poors, however, warns that profitability of Taiwanese technology companies may weaken after this year given their aggressive capacity expansion plans.  Read more