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BenQ Goes All Out In Mobile Telecommunication

BenQ Goes All Out In Mobile Telecommunication

BenQ-Siemens is Officially on the Radar

BenQ-Siemens is Officially on the Radar

HWZ: The acquisition of Siemens mobile phone business is widely known to be a tactical move to widen the geographical reach of the BenQ brand, particularly in Europe. Now, given your success in Australia, tell us your strategies on this branding challenge and how BenQ-Siemens will help BenQ's growth in the 3Cs.

Philip Newton: The acquisition of Siemens was actually a marriage of opposites, which it truly was. Siemens's strengths and weaknesses were the opposites of our strengths and weaknesses. They have brilliant mechanical design while we have beautiful cosmetics. It (acquisition) was just perfectly complementary. Simply put, you could not have gotten a better mix of two partners. The biggest challenge faced was neither the market nor its response but more of the cultural interchange taking place due to the formation of BenQ-Siemens. That being said, it has been encouraging so far to see a really healthy synergy between the two teams of people and some of the products that are being developed are shaping up to be very exciting. I can assure you that the next nine to twelve months are going to be surprising and unexpected. Our upcoming products are going to change the landscape of mobile phones.

HWZ: How is BenQ-Siemens going to create its own identity that is different from what consumers have already experienced given the multitude of brands available right now, particularly against another dual-named company such as Sony-Ericsson?

Philip Newton: When we sit down and set about developing new products, we do not actually examine our competitors, strange as that might sound. What we do is we study consumer activities rather than those of our competitors. It is completely up to different companies to adopt whatever strategies, directions and intentions they might have. Ours are based around specific user groups and focusing on specific consumers. The important matter is that we are able to address their needs. With regards to the earlier point that the acquisition of Siemens was to open up European market, I would also like to add that are actually two product houses under the new BenQ-Siemens structure. There is one in Asia and another in Europe and they are both independent organizations providing for their respective market places, although cross-pollination between the two do take place for certain products intended to be introduced in both regions. While we do cherish market share and the status of our brand, we do not slavishly review competitor activities in the same way as we do with consumer demands. This is our approach in doing business as far as BenQ-Siemens is concerned.

HWZ: Although Siemens lost 500 million euros in 2005, Mr. Lee was still adamant that BenQ could turn around the newly forged mobile phone operation in two years time. Obviously, not a lot of people, especially the analysts and critics, share Mr. Lee's optimism. What is your take on this?

Philip Newton: First of all, not a lot of people are aware that there has been immediate savings already and we are also meeting all the goals laid out in the early days of the acquisition. The strong support from the Siemens group at time of acquiring Siemens mobile business means that we will have their financial support over the next twelve months and with this, I can assure you that by the end of the year 2006, we (BenQ-Siemens) will be in a very good financial shape. The issue that our chairman Mr. Lee was questioned on was because of concerns over how BenQ-Siemens was going to manage the huge losses posted by Siemens mobile business in 2005. What they (analysts and critics) failed to realize is that BenQ is able to bring anywhere between 10 � 15% savings just in materials alone, and that is a tremendous savings in manufacturing.

HWZ: BenQ is currently the top mobile phone manufacturer in Taiwan, and now that it is backed by Siemens' expertise in telecommunication technology, what is the immediate impact BenQ-Siemens is going to bring to the global market and is Germany still going to be a key market now that it is BenQ-Siemens?

Philip Newton: It is important to note that the formation of BenQ-Siemens is a brand new entity. Hence, the coming together of the two companies should be seen as neither a BenQ nor a Siemens brand. What it (BenQ-Siemens) brings to the global market are fresh ideas; vivid and unique fresh concepts that are based around consumer needs, unlike any other vendors in the world. Given that Siemens is especially strong in Germany, it is no surprise that BenQ-Siemens will continue to take the leading role in Germany. We have to because that is our home market right now and the fact that BenQ-Siemens is headquartered in Munich, Germany just adds to the urgency in terms of pursuing market share in the country.

Mr. Philip, Newton wrapped up the interview by affirming that BenQ-Siemens is on course to launch 15 new handsets for 2006 of which at least 30% will be 3G models. "In terms of product development, a lot of work is done on the 3G side because both Siemens and BenQ are very strong in UMTS development", he added.