COMPUTEX - Computex grows in 2008, brings in US$20B

Computex will be over 50 percent bigger and bring in far more money to Taiwanese computer and parts makers this year.

The organizers of Computex Taipei 2008 boasted big growth on Wednesday that could someday make the computer and electronics show the biggest in the world.

Orders for computer and communications hardware placed at the event, which runs from June 3-7 in Taiwan, are expected to rise to US$20 billion from $15 billion last year, and the space for companies to show off their wares has soared by 53 percent to 4,482 booths, organizers said, from 2,926 last year.

They estimate that sales related to the show but made later in the year will be around $50 billion.

Computex already ranks among the top five electronics shows in the world. But expanding to another exhibition hall near Taipei gave organizers more room for companies that have been begging for added booth area. Despite the new space, some companies were still left out.

"There is still a waiting list to get into Computex," said Walter Yeh, executive vice president at the Taiwan External Trade Development Council ( TAITRA, co-organizer of the event.

Computex show space will be at two locations this year, with exhibition halls at the World Trade Center in the capital of Taipei, and Nangang.

The organizers have set up free shuttle buses to ferry people back and forth between the exhibition halls, and project the average ride will be 30 minutes, based on the time it has taken during other major shows held concurrently at both areas.

The show will highlight a few product categories this year, including environmentally-friendly computer hardware and devices able to connect to the Internet wirelessly via WiMax, organizers said.

Low-cost laptop PCs, rivals to Asustek's popular Eee PC, will feature prominently. "As far as we know, every major vendor will announce their own kind of this product at Computex," said Li Chang, deputy secretary general for the Taipei Computer Association (TCA), the other organizer of the event.

Taiwanese companies will be the main exhibitors at Computex, as usual, followed by vendors from the U.S., Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea.

China will figure more prominently this year, due to a creative solution to the naming of the show.

Literature aimed at China calls Computex a "Cross-Strait Exhibition" instead of an "International Exhibition," careful wording aimed at avoiding political problems with China, which claims Taiwan as a province.

"China is also a very important market, a booming market," said Yeh.

Taiwan and China split in 1949 amid civil war, and China has vowed to use force if necessary to take the island back.

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Dan Nystedt

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