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Taiwan’s Computer Industry Growing

November 25, 1998

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) _ While many businesses struggle amid Taiwan’s economic doldrums, the notebook computer makers are busily expanding in an industry that should grow by 35 percent this year, according to government projections released today.

Notebooks have emerged a rising star in Taiwan’s computer industry, after the island secured its place as the world’s top producer of monitors, keyboards and motherboards.

Notebook makers are reporting higher profits, sending their share prices soaring in a generally lackluster stock market. Initial production figures show Taiwan will likely replace Japan as the world’s top notebook computer maker _ if it hasn’t already.

Taiwan is expected to produce around 6 million notebook computers this year, about 40 percent of global output. That could be slightly more than Japan’s output, according to government and business estimates, and be a 35 percent increase from 1997.

A few Japanese firms, such as electronics giant NEC Corp., have purchased notebooks from Taiwan because of lower prices. The buying pressure eased this year because a sharp depreciation of the Japanese yen made the Taiwanese products somewhat less attractive in Japan, but Taiwanese executives believe their price advantage eventually will return.

Japan has a strong component industry, and the U.S. computer industry is more diversified, but Taiwan’s smaller makers have the flexibility to produce notebooks faster with more efficiency, analysts say.

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