More Chinese companies than ever took part in Asia’s largest IT fair, which ended this weekend in Taipei, but their growing numbers could not disguise their lingering weaknesses, observers said. China has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to innovation, not least when compared with the host of the five-day Computex fair, the small but savvy island of Taiwan, which punches above its weight in technology.
“There’s no denying the Chinese have carved out niches in some items, like computer casing and power systems,” said Chang Li, deputy secretary general of the Taipei Computer Association, the co-organiser of Computex. “But generally speaking, Taiwan companies are still ahead in all the PC-related fields.” With more than 1,800 exhibitors present at Computex, it was easy to lose sight of the roughly 220 Chinese companies at the sprawling event.
And while the mainland presence was up from just 100 enterprises last year, most occupied small booths, squeezed in between much larger and better-known multinational brands. Sandget Digital Technology Co., from Shenzhen in southern China, did attract attention with a new seven-inch touchscreen tablet that operates on Google’s Android open-source platform. “Even Samsung and Acer sent people to our booth to have a look at our tablets,” said Lily Lee, a sales manager with the company. But the product would never have made it this far without the close cooperation of more experienced companies from other countries, she said.