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Taiwanese computer market overview

Our society lives by stereotypes, thinking in patterns is plainer. All the Italians eat spaghetti without exception, the Koreans eat dogs, and bears wearing caps with ear-flaps wander along Moscow streets. In fact we had no special stereotypes before going to Taipei. But we had a slight latent feeling it would be different, not like in Europe. Asia still and all. However it turned out Taiwan (at least its industrial part) is more alike Europe than unlike.

Thinking it over, we decided Taipei is much alike Moscow or any other European city. The same furious life pace, traffic jams during rush hours. If moving away from the city center you can see beautiful office centers alternating with real gutter. The city is less populated than Moscow and has more than 3 million people. Fortunately, I didn't have to adapt to local cuisine due to my long-standing passion to Japanese one. Local centers are easy to find one's way. Taiwanese dollar exchange rate allows bravely equate the dollar to Russian ruble (9 rubles form 10 local dollars, to be precise). Taxi, food and hotels are very cheap. And the prices for the last mentioned even can't be compared with Moscow ones.

Concerning the retail market, all the similarity is to the fore, at least at first sight. And then the nuances we'd like to tell about start. We devoted our several evenings to studying a local computer market, our survey was held in the context of mobile devices oriented on the end-user. This material can't pretend to be a full market research, take it for subjective impressions, so called travel notes.

First we headed for a consumer electronics shop net called 3C. They are the most frequent in Taipei. The shop is designed in yellow. The ground floor is taken by notebooks, monitors, and handhelds. The first thing striking our eyes is all the devices are wrapped in film. That is a good idea, now customers can try devices not damaging the appearance of expensive goods.

Rarely any shop does without a pocket console PSP by Sony, it is sold in a kit with games and without them as well.

The variety of card readers just amazes, any colour and form.

Various Bluetooth devices count more than one dozen. They are mainly unknown trademarks with Bluetooth-headsets and USB prevailing.

The choice of phones and smartphones is limited in this network, they are provided optionally. We'll stress, at the same time a Dopod (an Asian brand of HTC) line is offered fully.

Also you shouldn't buy PDAs here, since the choice is limited, and the devices are beyond the means.

And then we headed for local computer markets, we were explained there are two huge computer centers in Taipei. The first one is better to call a computer street - big and small shops are placed along the whole street making flashy with Taiwanese manufacturers' posters. At the same time a huge trade center with many computer outlets is placed on the street.

Local youth is almost mad about computer innovations. Having got to the market in the week-day evening we found there was not an inch of room, such a feeling like a long awaited new device appeared on the market and everybody rushed to buy it.

Assembling a configuration to order makes no problem; you don't even need to know Chinese hieroglyphs, since all the specs are clear. As mentioned above, centers are easy to orientate into. I'm sure if you have ever attended a computer market you have probably seen similar prices for various configurations of system cases.

Many of the shops sell legal software. And even a Kaspersky anti-virus may be bought. Unlicensed software is sold not so far, in the street on folding tables with pasteboard cards with the labels written by hand. Such outlets are seldom to find. Buying unlicensed soft is unaccepted, and Taiwanese law is stricter than the Russian. Young people download programs from Chinese sites.

Numerous musical players are everywhere. It's possible to see how three or four potential buyers choose an MP3 player in the same outlet at once. A miniature flash 1 BG player may cost 120 USD. Apple iPod players are very popular.

Various peripheral devices and accessories are innumerable, and one kind of accessory may take the whole wall.

Lately writing DVD players with hard drives appeared. Now they are not very popular due to high price, according to salesmen.

Even a month hasn't passed since the first 3G network was launched in Taiwan. The model line we saw on the shelves slightly differs from what may be seen in Europe. The same Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, SonyEricsson. New devices appear efficiently. Phones of local brands like Asus and BenQ are sold almost everywhere. They are widely known. There are no any special logics of putting the devices on the counters; they are put all together divided by the manufacturer. Some of them are wrapped in cellophane and some are not.

Prices for the phones are quite appropriate. They are not minimal, though not raised too high.

Starting our walk along a computer street we get into a PDA specializing shop. Here is how its product line looks. The majority of world PDAs are produced by Taiwanese companies, and obviously all the new devices are displayed.

A notebook shop shows very interesting way of work. Tables for customers are placed around the periphery, so you can come and play with the model you like, decide whether you like it or not. That's much better than choosing a notebook standing or in a hurry. When we passed by all the tables were engaged.

Nobody abuses for eating at your work place, it is customary here. The customer flow is great and no potential buyers should be lost. And leaving a counter without supervision is also bad.

The second computer market we attended is placed on several floors of the building you can see on the photo. The assortment slightly differs from the first one. Subjectively, the lace looks a bit more civilized. Almost all the shop assistants speak English a bit, which we lacked in the first outlet and that's why had to explain very hard by gestures. And a customer flow is less.

Advertising should be mentioned also. There is much of it and mainly it's directed on computers. The whole shop wall may be taken with a notebook ad, and an ad area of the entire bus is given to the black version of the Motorola V3 RAZR.

Flash card manufacturers have their ads on walls and on the floor. And in the end of the article we provide with a set of outdoors mobile phones and PDAs ads.

Anton Kotov (anton.kotov@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Maria Mitina (maria.mitina@mobile-review.com)

Published - 28 June 2005

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