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Talk of the Day -- Google-Asus, Hon Hai-Sharp, Renesas-TSMC tie-ups

2012/05/25 20:37:57

Search engine giant Google Inc. will launch a new tablet model in partnership with Taiwan's Asustek Computer to consolidate its Android platform's market dominance before Microsoft Corp. releases its touch-centric Windows 8 operating system, according to media reports.

The Google-Asustek tablet is scheduled to be launched in July, with 2 million to 2.5 million units expected to be shipped in 2012, the reports said.

The reports also cited several other cooperative ventures between Taiwan and Japan's high-tech sectors.

They include a partnership between Taiwan's Hon Hai Group and Japan's Sharp Corp. to build a plant in China to produce the next generation of display panels and a tie-up between Japanese chip maker Renesas Electronics Corp. and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) in microchip production.

The following are excerpts from local media coverage of these ventures and the possible impact they will have:

China Times:

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said last December that the company would launch the highest quality tablet computer in six months time.

Industry insiders said Asustek, one of the world's leading computer vendors, has won over Google management with its innovation capabilities and that the two companies have agreed to collaborate in producing a 7-inch tablet at an affordable price to challenge Amazon's Kindle Fire.

According to DigiTimes, Google originally had hoped that the new tablet could be ready to launch in May but dropped the plan as the product's design and cost fell short of its expectations.

After some design changes, the new Google-Asus tablet will be formally launched in July, DigiTimes said.

The latest statistics released by display market research firm DisplaySearch show that global tablet sales were robust in the first quarter of the year thanks to strong demand for Apple Inc.'s new iPad.

In the non-Apple camp, Google's Android remains the mainstream tablet operating system, but major brandname computer vendors are setting their eyes on Windows 8.

Google's partnership with Asustek is seen as part of its efforts to prevent the Android operating system from being marginalized after Windows 8's launch. Leading PC vendors such as HP and Dell have said they will not unveil new tablet models until after the release of Windows 8. (May 25, 2012).

Commercial Times:

Japanese business daily Nikkei reported earlier this week that Sharp Corp., Japan's largest flat panel maker, will cooperate with Taiwan's Hon Hai Group -- the world's largest electronics manufacturing services provider -- to build a new liquid crystal display (LCD) plant in Chengdu in southwestern China.

The paper said negotiations have entered the final stage and that under the proposed partnership, Sharp will provide advanced LCD technology for Hon Hai's flat panel production.

Industry sources said Nikkei was referring to a plant being built by Hon Hai in Chengdu that will produce a new generation of LCD displays using low-temperature poly-silicon (LTPS) display technology.

If Hon Hai, which is the main assembler of Apple's iPhone and iPad, acquires Sharp's LTPS know-how, it will stand a better chance of securing LCD display orders from Apple, the sources said.

Apple's iPhone and iPad use LTPS display panels, and Sharp is already one of Apple's flat panel suppliers.

Hon Hai would not comment on Nikkei's report Thursday. It just said that if the company did have a joint venture plan with a foreign company, it would follow government regulations in carrying out such a project.

Hon Hai, which owns Foxconn Technology Group in China, announced in late March its acquisition of a roughly 10 percent stake in Sharp for US$800 million, which made it the Japanese company's largest shareholder.

Under the deal, Hon Hai and its chairman Terry Gou also agreed to acquire a 46.5 percent stake in a 10th generation LCD plant in Japan for an additional US$800 million.

The acquisition is expected to allow Hon Hai to not only own half of the Sharp plant's production but also participate in the Japanese company's future technology development. (May 15, 2012).

Liberty Times:

Japanese chip maker Renesas Electronics Corp. plans to tie up with Taiwan's TSMC in microchip production, the Yomiuri Shimbun, a major Japanese daily, reported Thursday.

Renesas, the world's biggest supplier of microcontroller chips used in automobiles, will likely outsource some microchip production to TSMC under the tie-up, the paper said.

The Japanese company hopes the outsourcing project will help cut its production costs as TSMC is the world's largest contract chip maker, according to the report. (May 25, 2012)

(By Sofia Wu)