BenQ Parent Company Sticking It Out In Cellphones - InformationWeek

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BenQ Parent Company Sticking It Out In Cellphones

After high hopes of being a handset giant, the tattered remains of BenQ-Siemens will be sold off on eBay. But the company is already planning a comeback, focusing on products that have worked in the past.

SHANGHAI — Despite the pending liquidation of BenQ Mobile, its parent company in Taiwan intends to stick it out in the handset market, focusing on smart phones and mobile internet devices that take advantage of fixed-mobile convergence.

Jerry Wang, the former chairman of BenQ Mobile told EE Times Thursday that the company will roll out a series of convergence devices this year that range from basic feature phones up through smart phones and ultra mobile PCs.

Of the 14 phones BenQ plans to launch this year, most will have Wi-Fi connectivity so that users can smoothly shift from wide area networks to local area networks. "There are not many vendors who are able to do this at this moment," Wang said, adding that the company is talking with several customers and operators about the devices.

Earlier this week, German bankruptcy administrator Martin Prager confirmed the sale of BenQ Mobile, saying: "There is no longer a realistic chance of it being sold as a whole," so office equipment, every stick of furniture, factory gear, and maybe even a few phones, will be auctioned off, some of it on eBay.

It's an ignominious end to a company intended to serve as a stepping stone to global ambitions. "Everybody understands that we need to go back to 1.5 years ago and restart again," said Wang, who is also executive vice president and chief marketing officer of BenQ Corp.

On a positive note, BenQ expects at least 30 percent to 40 percent growth from its LCD monitor line this year, better margins in digital still cameras and continued Top 3 performance in projectors. In short, it is going back to basics and focusing on products that have clicked before.

When the original BenQ-Siemens deal happened in mid 2005, it was one of the largest technology acquisitions in Asia that year, and part of a growing trend in which Asian companies, particularly in Greater China, seek out distressed assets of Western companies in the hope that stricter cost control and manufacturing efficiencies can bring them back to profitability.

Many aren't surprised at the outcome of the BenQ-Siemens venture. Siemens basically gave the troubled division to BenQ to stem the flow of red ink. The unit was losing more than $1.5 million a day and had racked up losses of about $650 million during the 12 months preceding the sale.

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