BenQ boss bends tradition

Taipei, Taiwan — They say clothes makes the man. For Kuenyao (K.Y.) Lee, the CEO of BenQ, it is not so much the clothes but the sense of style. Lee is trying to give his company, which used to be known as Acer Peripherals, a new style under a new the name.

BenQ stands for “”bringing enjoyment

and quality to life””, and image will be what’s in fashion at the firm.

Lee has been trying to establish the BenQ brand in North America. Its lastest venture is a line of Intel Centrino-based notebooks called Joybooks.

With the Joybook, Lee will break a long standing business practice in North America: BenQ will release the Joybook in Canada first and then the more lucrative U.S. market.

The company has already started shipping the Joybook in Asia-Pacific and Europe. The notebook comes bundled with Q-media, BenQ’s own multimedia operating system, and can link display devices such as mobile phones, PCs, digital cameras, recordable CD disk drives, and MP3 players to edit, store, transfer and share data in both wired and wireless environments.

Lee sat down with Computer Dealer News just before the start of the Computex computer trade show here to talk about the new notebook and the Canadian marketplace.

CDN: Why enter the notebook market now?

K.Y. Lee: We made peripherals for a long time and made the mobile phone for seven years. But we did not do this in the U.S. So most people do not know this. Before we changed our name to BenQ we were Acer Communications and Multimedia. We focused on multimedia peripherals and we believe in the future that people need something beyond that. We have so many products surrounding the computer but it is not enough. People need something to connect all these multimedia peripheral devices together. We needed something that could help integrate this networking environment. With this vision in mind, we entered this business. We have already introduced these products in Asia and Europe. Early next year in the U.S. we start to launch these products.

CDN: You are in an extremely competitive market with IBM, HP, Sony, Toshiba and Acer. What is going to make your notebook stand out in this market?

Lee: In the old days people used notebook for business purposes. More and more people are now using them for personal applications with multimedia functions. We believe in the future all notebooks will have functions that integrate video capabilities and wireless technologies into that small box. So we optimized our products to support those features. For example, the video functions: To see the DVDs or motion pictures, you need a really bright screen. Currently, most LCD screens are made for e-mail, word or spreadsheet purposes. We do not need screens for faster changing videos. But, for video screens are not as bright as a TV. We needed to upgrade this to support that. With support from our LCD companies we have developed a new screen for our notebooks. We believe our products can optimize the video and multimedia applications for home and office.

CDN: What is your strategy for the channel with the new Joybook?

Lee: In Asia, we have had very good response from the market. This is what customers needed. Customers here use the computer for business, but when they travel they also use it for entertainment. In Asia people do not make a difference between business and entertainment. So we believe notebooks should be focused more on entertainment in the future. For channel purposes I do not see any changes. In Asia we use existing channels.

CDN: Will BenQ make a tablet PC to complement its new notebook line?

Lee: Not today. We think that the tablet PC solutions today are too heavy and not friendly enough. There are several bottlenecks to solve such as power consumption and the width of the total solution. Today, it simply is not friendly enough. These are critical problems that we have to encounter. The current hardware cannot support it and we are not keen on (tablet PCs).

CDN: What are your goals and aspirations for the new subsidiary in Canada?

Lee: Initially, we just wanted to provide more solutions in projectors, LCD monitors and DVD storage devices to the market. But, we will introduced the Joybook to Canada first in the North American market.

CDN: Why Canada and not the U.S.?

Lee: The U.S. is a much larger market. We need more time to prepare for that market.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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