Compal eyes strong demand in 2nd half of ’14


TAIPEI–Taipei-based Compal Electronics Inc. (仁寶), the world’s No. 2 contract laptop PC maker, forecast Tuesday solid demand for notebook computers in the second half of 2014 due to a recovery in consumer purchases.

Compal President Ray Chen (陳瑞聰) predicted that his company’s notebook shipments in the second half of the year will grow 5-10 percent from the same period in 2013 despite the decline seen in the first quarter of 2014 and an expected flat growth in the second quarter.

“Notebook demand looks pretty strong in the second half of this year,” he said on the sidelines of a press conference held to announce the establishment of a research center for smart wearable devices and health care technology.

He said that Compal’s laptop shipments over the whole year could be roughly the same as the 39 million units shipped in 2013.

Compal told an investors’ meeting on May 8 that it shipped 8.9 million laptops in the January-March quarter, making up 80 percent of its total revenue for the period. The company’s first-quarter consolidated revenue stood at NT$170.64 billion (US$5.7 billion), down 12 percent from the previous quarter but up 2 percent from a year earlier.

According to data compiled by research firm Gartner Inc., worldwide PC shipments declined 1.7 percent year-on-year to 76.6 million units in the first quarter of this year, marking the eighth consecutive quarter of declines.

The end of Windows XP support by Microsoft Corp. on April 8, however, has played a role in easing the decline of PC shipments, Gartner said, adding that the impact of XP migration worldwide is expected to continue throughout 2014 and provide a boost in PC replacements. Research Center for Smart Wearables, Health Care Compal signed an agreement Tuesday with Chang Gung University (長庚大學) to build a research center for smart wearable devices and health care technology.

Compal plans to fund the new research center with an initial investment of tens of million new Taiwan dollars (US$333,000 and up) and will allocate 30-50 engineers to work at the center with researchers from the university, said Chen.

“The research center represents Compal’s commitment to the future of the health care industry. Our partnership with Chang Gung University is expected to bring new energy to the industry,” Chen said at the signing ceremony.

Chang Gung University President Pao Chia-chu said he appreciates Compal’s support for his university and its help in transforming research into commercial products.

The first product from the new center will be smart clothing equipped with a microprocessor and an array of sensors to monitor the user’s heart rate, pulse and body temperature and send alerts to a smartphone when abnormal conditions are detected.

Currently under development, it is expected to start shipping in the second or third quarter of next year to local hospitals, with an initial price of over NT$20,000 (US$668), Chen said.

He forecast the jointly developed smart clothing will take 50 percent or more of the market in Taiwan in 2015 thanks to integration with medical services offered by Chang Gung University, such as real-time diagnosis.