Deal between IT shows to stimulate notebooks, mobile phones

Computex expects its MOU with CeBIT to help pair manufacturers in Eastern Europe with greater China

Two of the world's biggest electronics shows will join forces from this year, a move that links hardware and mobile phone makers in emerging Eastern Europe with would-be partners in greater China.

CeBIT, an IT show that opened this week in Germany, will share show space, staff and promotional details with Computex, which takes place every year in Taipei, according to a memorandum of understanding the two sides were prepared to sign at on Wednesday.

Better exposure in Europe will introduce Computex to designers of low-cost mobile phones and notebook computers from emerging markets in former Soviet bloc countries, said Clark Kuo, an exhibition project manager with the Taiwan External Trade Development Council, organizer of the Taipei show.

Today those firms would know CeBIT, as it takes place every year in nearby Germany, and should learn through CeBIT about the Taipei show, Kuo said.

Once part of the Taipei show, those companies will meet Taiwanese contract manufacturers that make hardware for designers. Participation at Computex would also give European firms more exposure to mainland China, a massive market for low-end PCs and consumer electronics and a highlight of Computex 2011 that begins on May 31.

"The iPhone might be too expensive (for Eastern European consumers)," Kuo said, gauging consumer habits in Eastern Europe. "Taiwan manufacturers are known for keeping costs down. So companies in Europe can ask for partners in Taiwan to make their hardware on contract."

More mutual promotion of CeBIT and Computex should also increase the number of purchasing groups from each side and drive up attendance at the Taipei show, which forecasts a record 1,800 exhibitors this year, Kuo said.

Taiwan firms knowing that more European companies might attend Computex could save money by sending fewer representatives to Europe, Kuo added.

Europe accounted for about 10 percent of Taiwan's trade last year. Major European tech firms such as Alcatel-Lucent and Siemens already use Computex as a sourcing hub, said Ian Peng, analyst with DigiTimes Research in Taipei. But CeBIT and Computex have lost importance as they focus on the relatively stagnant traditional PC industry, he added, while shows such as CES and Mobile World Congress exhibit more up-and-coming smartphones and tablets. CES is particularly popular as the first show of the year, he said.

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Ralph Jennings

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