Thursday, June 23, 2011


The Federal Trade Commission is letting software giant Microsoft Corp. proceed with its largest deal ever, a $8.5 billion bid for web chat and call service Skype.
The FTC announced Friday that it had finished its review of the buyout so it can proceed if the Department of Justice also approves. Both agencies must review any deal worth more than $65.2 million, according to the FTC.
Microsoft already has a Skype-like service called Windows Live. But Skype lets users of different kinds of computers and phones chat directly. The deal could enable Microsoft to sell more digital advertising and offer more popular business conferencing tools.
Microsoft's bid is more than three times Skype's value 18 months ago when eBay Inc. sold a two-thirds stake to private equity firm Silver Lake.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Last week's Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles drew nearly 47,000 video-game developers, publishers, retailers, analysts and media, showing off and taking in the latest and greatest in equipment and titles. Attendees got a look at the battle plans for dueling futuristic military shooters Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and previewed the Wii U, a future system from Nintendo. Here's a look at other top items:

Apple has gotten a lot of attention recently for the unveiling of its iCloud, but in the video-game sphere, two companies already in the cloud, delivering complex games via the Net to smaller, simpler devices than consoles and PCs, unveiled new advances.

OnLive demonstrated new apps that allow full-featured games to be played on tablets such as the iPad, the Motorola Xoom and other devices based on Google's Android system.

Many games will be able to be adapted for touchscreen control when the service expands later this summer. From Dust, a game in development by Ubisoft for Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network, was shown being played using the iPad's touchscreen. Players also can choose to use an accessory universal controller (no price set).

You can have this little TV, if you will, and this controller, and have a full gaming experience. OnLive, which began delivering games via browsers to computers and, using an adapter, to TVs last year. (Games can be rented, purchased or played as part of a $9.99 monthly subscription.)

If publishers choose, they could adapt games so that OnLive players could use a tablet and TV in tandem, which is the vision that Nintendo was showing at E3. The in-development Wii U console's handheld controller includes a 6.2-inch touchscreen. The difference is, of course, this is something that works outside of your living room and is not tethered to the TV.

Also on the way: OnLive capability built into Vizio TVs and other smart sets.

Cloud-gaming competitor Gaikai takes a different approach, pitching publishers such as EA to use its globally connected network of servers to deliver their games directly to consumers. Games and demos can be played within a standard Web browser on computers, TVs and tablets.

Most games can be streamed, but deep, rich games such as Mass Effect 2 might have a portion of the software downloaded to the user as the initial scenes play out. The download would be smaller than the standard game installation. They believe in the Web being the future.

Publishers also could allow their games to play directly through Facebook.

Services that deliver console-quality experiences without requiring console-strength hardware could be a glimpse into the future. This may be the last generation of consoles, and if it is, it's going to be replaced by this sort of thing. Having two competitors just validates the space.

Perhaps the most talked-about game at E3 was BioShock Infinite (due in 2012 for PS3, Xbox360 and PCs), the third in 2K Games' celebrated sci-fi action series.

Unlike its predecessors, based in the ruins of the underwater city of Rapture, this imaginative sequel takes place in the floating-on-air city of Columbia in an alternate 1912. You play as an agent, who is attempting to rescue the mysterious young Elizabeth from her jailer: a 20-foot-tall birdlike mechanical creature called the Songbird.

The stunningly detailed world, memorable characters and intense action sequences — including a heated firefight that becomes dizzying when you hop on a roller-coaster-like sky-rail system to get around — all add to the unique, immersive experience.

They really wanted to put the player in this amazing world and tell their story not through non-interactive sequences —they tell the story through the world. Irrational Games, which created the original 2007 hit BioShock said they tell the story through the character you areand through the woman you're with.

First James Bond, then Dr. Who. Now the latest British action hero to be reborn? Lara Croft.

An origin story due in 2012, Tomb Raider unveils Lara Croft's transformation into the tomb-raiding adventurer. And this game, now in development for PS3, Xbox 360 and PCs, leaps out of its previously cartoonish mode into a full Mature-rated treatment, a first for the series.

The story line involves Lara surviving a shipwreck only to be pursued on a mysterious island.

Crystal Dynamics said that in order to portray this survival experience, this real visceral experience on the island going through these situations, you cannot do that in a Teen-rated world.

Early creepy scenes show her evading a shadowy captor in a dark, claustrophobic escape and self-treating serious wounds.

The creater said it is not about being able to constantly drop the F-bomb and have gore and grotesque use of language - it's just real survival and real situations. They want to make you feel like you are right there with her.

At the outset, Lara is sort of innocent, young and naive, but she has some of the qualities and the essence, the determination and the grittiness. There are stages of character development. The goal of that is there will be a point in the game, probably within the first 1½ or two hours, when the player will fell that they now feel connected to and understand Lara Croft.

The franchise also is getting a movie reboot (the two originals starred Angelina Jolie)expected in 2013.

Sony officially christened its next-generation portable the PlayStation Vita, successor to the PlayStation Portable , to sell for $249 (Wi-Fi) and $299 (Wi-Fi plus 3G) when the global rollout begins at year's end.

The PS Vita has a 5-inch multitouch organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screen, a rear touchpad, two thumbsticks, front- and rear-facing cameras and SixAxis motion control.

Among the Sony games in development for PS Vita are Uncharted: Golden Abyss, WipeOut, Sound Shapes and Modnation Racers. Several third-party games were revealed as part of the Vita roster, too, including an original BioShock title from 2K Games, Street Fighter X Tekken from Capcom and Call of Duty from Activision. Other publishers such as EA,THQ and Ubisoft also are supporting the portable.

They believe this device will change how people think about portable gaming. They claim the advanced technology packed into the PS Vita will deliver experiences never before seen on any handheld.

AT&T will serve as the exclusive carrier for the 3G models.

Sony is introducing the Vita as it attempts to reverse its fortunes in the portable gaming market. Although the company's announced sales of the PSP exceed 70 million units worldwide, the device has struggled against Nintendo's formidable DS, which has already sold more than 135 million.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Microsoft is considering launching its own-brand tablet PC that features Windows 8 by the end of 2012 with cooperation from Texas Instruments and Taiwan-based OEMs/ODMs. Companies like Microsoft are considering all kinds of things like dell deals, but that doesn't mean it will happen.
Intent isn't the same as execution, but in the case of a Microsoft branded tablet it should be. Microsoft cannot stay out of the tablet market any longer - as provider of hardware, software and supporting services. Apple has seized control of a category Microsoft pioneered. In a few months, iCloud will transform how Apple customers use tablets and other iOS devices, using push rather than pull for data synchronization. Microsoft must launch its own tablet, regardless of potential channel conflict with its OEM partners.
At the least, the Microsoft tablet could be to its partners what the Nexus smartphone series is for Google. The Google-branded phone offers a hardware baseline for its OEM partners and stable platform always running the newest version of Android for its developers. Google sells the smartphone, too -- and that's a smart way of courting the enthusiast market and getting its brand inside retail stores. Google should go further, and release its own branded tablet.
There's precedent, for Microsoft, strangely. During PDC 2009, Microsoft gave away thin and light laptops is had designed with Acer. Microsoft designed the laptop with features and baseline hardware for which developers should create their applications. Touchscreen was among the capabilities. At the time, Microsoft struggled with netbooks sapping Windows revenues - they were selling so well running cheaper versions of the operating system. Microsoft's PDC attendee laptop giveaway was a brilliant response to the netbook problem. The company had talked about thin and light laptops as better alternative to netbooks - and for good reasons. Thin and light laptops offer many of the size and weight advantages of netbooks but with hardier hardware performance, better customer experience and greater operating system margins for Microsoft.
That laptop set a baseline for developers, and other OEM partners. The strategy paid off in many ways. For example, Samsung released the Series 9 thin and light laptop, which is prominently displayed at the Microsoft Store in San Diego. Last week, Intel announced a new laptop category, Ultrabook, which is thin and light but also takes on some characteristics of media tablets. IBM memory upgrades may be necessary. Microsoft set the bar for thin and light laptops, and partners responded. But the bar could have been lower by actually releasing a branded model for sale to businesses and consumers.
With Windows Phone 7, Microsoft chose a different approach, by establishing a minimum hardware set of standards for OEMs to follow. They did just that - the minimum. What Microsoft really needed was its own smartphone leading the way for partners and setting a baseline for developers. Microsoft’s partnership with Nokia may be the next best thing - or perhaps better.
For tablets, there are few reasons why Microsoft shouldn't go further like to release a Microsoft branded tablet with Windows 8. But 2012 is just too long to wait.
Tablets aren't a new category, by any means. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates tried to jumpstart it in 2000. He introduced the "Tablet PC" concept running Windows and using a stylus. The first tablets, based on Windows XP, shipped two years later. For nearly eight years after, the category nudged forward and stalled; it was niche, not mainstream. Then 14 months ago, Apple started selling iPad, which was a surprising success - certainly more than analysts predicted. The tablet market was declining until Apple set it off with its iPad.
This week, at Apple's annual developer conference, iOS software, announced 25 million iPads sold in just 14 months. That may not seem like much now, considering 84.3 million PCs shipped in their first quarter. But the analysts also identified media tablets as cannibalizing PC sales.
Low prices for consumer PCs, which had long stimulated growth, no longer attracted buyers. Instead, consumers turned their attention to media tablets and other consumer electronics. With the launch of the iPad 2 in February, more consumers either switched to buying an alternative device, or simply held back from buying PCs.
It's time Microsoft made the hard decision about tablets. Is it going to roll over and be gutted by Apple and maybe even Android tablets? Or is it going to fight back and show leadership to its enterprise customers, developers and OEM partners? Software isn't enough. It's time for a brand Microsoft tablet, with supporting software and cloud services, too.


BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. is already struggling to keep up with rivals such as Apple Inc. The phones, that use a reputable injection molding company, now it faces another challenge: dissident shareholders who are calling for changes in how the company is run.
A Canadian investment firm is calling for RIM to separate the roles of CEO and chairman, saying that's vital for the board to be able to do its job. Shareholder-rights groups often support separating the two positions. A board of directors is tasked with overseeing the CEO, which can be difficult if the CEO is also chairman of the board.
The firm, Northwest & Ethical Investments, is also asking that the company require any future board chairmen to be independent from the company, which essentially means that they cannot be RIM employees.
Shareholders will vote on NEI's proposal at the annual meeting July 12 in RIM's hometown of Waterloo, Ontario.
RIM has an unusual leadership structure, where two executives, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, serve as both co-CEOs and co-chairmen. The company is asking shareholders to vote against NEI's proposal, saying that the board's lead independent director serves many of the functions that a chairman would.
Balsillie and Lazaridis have long histories at the company.
In 2009, they settled allegations with the SEC and the Ontario Securities Commission about stock options that had allegedly been backdated. As part of the settlement, Balsillie agreed to step down from the board for about a year and use a cheap dell laptop.
In March, RIM reported higher revenue and net income for the fiscal year ended Feb. 26. But in April, it cut its predictions for future earnings and sales, saying it's selling fewer and cheaper phones than it had expected. BlackBerrys are known for their security and reliability as email devices, but they haven't kept pace with Apple's iPhones or phones based on Google Inc.'s Android software when it comes to running third-party applications.
Since the beginning of the year, RIM's stock has fallen 37 percent to $36.56.
RIM will report earnings for the fiscal first quarter on Thursday.


Pandora raised the price range of its initial public offering Friday by at least a third and boosted the number of shares to be sold by as many as a million, demonstrating again a seemingly insatiable demand from investors for a stake a new slate of Internet companies that have used sun blade servers.
The popular online radio service may raise as much as $176.3 million with the new offer.
Proceeds for Pandora Media Inc. could reach about $72 million if the shares price at $12. Selling stockholders would get up to $104.2 million.
Pandora raised the price range for the shares to between $10 and $12, up from the initial $7 and $9 it was seeking. Pandora and the selling stockholders are also now offering up to 14.7 million shares, up from 13.7 million earlier.
The IPO from Pandora, based in Oakland, Calif., comes amid a sizzling market for the latest generation of Internet companies that have used hp servers. These include daily deals site Groupon Inc., which has filed to go public and professional networking service LinkedIn Corp., which has already completed its IPO.
Shares of LinkedIn, issued at $45 in mid-May, soared above $100 before noon on the day they hit the market and closed at $94.25 on a trading volume of 30 million shares. Shares are now trading above $72.
Pandora got its start in 2000 as a music recommendation service, then known as Savage Beast Technologies. It changed its name in 2005 when it launched an Internet radio service that lets people stream music over the Web. Users can create custom stations based on songs, genres or artists.
Joseph Kennedy, a former salesman for automaker Saturn Corp. and executive for online banker E-Loan, has been Pandora's CEO since 2005. He owns 4.2 million Pandora shares. Other stockholders include venture capitalists Crosslink Capital, Walden Venture Capital and Greylock Partners and newspaper and magazine publisher Hearst Corp.
Pandora offers a basic, ad-supported service for free. Users can pay for a service with no ads that allows them to skip more songs they don't like and listen to songs in higher sound quality. Most listeners still use the free service.
The company plans to use the proceeds from the offering to pay accrued dividends on its redeemable convertible preferred shares and for general corporate purposes, and to replace used cisco catalyst switches.


New government test results show that a proposed high-speed wireless broadband network being launched by a company called LightSquared could jam GPS systems used for aviation, public safety, military operations and other uses leaving them scrambling for electronic component datasheets.
The results released this week by a federal working group come amid mounting concern that LightSquared's planned network could cripple GPS systems embedded throughout the nation's infrastructure. And they raise questions about whether the government will allow LightSquared to turn its network on as scheduled next year.
In January the Federal Communications Commission gave LightSquared approval to build a nationwide fourth-generation wireless network that would compete with super-fast systems being rolled out by AT&T and Verizon. The new network will wholesale access to other companies that will rebrand the service under their own names.
The FCC sees the LightSquared network as one part of a broad government push to bring high-speed Internet connections to all Americans. It would cover at least 92 percent of the U.S. by 2015.
But the company's plans have set off alarm bells among GPS equipment makers and the many government agencies and companies that rely on GPS systems and a Seagate usb driver, because LightSquared's network would use airwaves right next to those already set aside for GPS. They warn that sensitive satellite receivers — designed to pick up relatively weak signals coming from space — could be overwhelmed when LightSquared starts sending high-powered signals from as many as 40,000 transmitters on the ground.
LightSquared's network could cause devastating interference to all different kinds of GPS receivers.
Faced with these concerns, the FCC has made clear that LightSquared cannot launch its network until the interference problems are resolved. It is requiring the company to participate in a technical working group with GPS manufacturers and users to study the matter. That group conducted GPS interference tests using LightSquared equipment in Las Vegas last month and will report the results to the FCC next week.
The agency will then seek public comments on the matter. The FCC said it will not allow LightSquared's commercial service to proceed if that would cause widespread harmful interference with GPS or a fujitsu hard drive.
Results compiled by a working group of the National Executive Committee for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing — a government organization that advises and coordinates among federal agencies that rely on GPS technology — found potential for widespread GPS interference.
The tests showed that wireless signals from LightSquared's planned network interfered with GPS receivers used by the Coast Guard and NASA and caused Federal Aviation Administration GPS receivers to stop functioning altogether.
The tests — most of which were conducted by various federal agencies at Holloman Air Force Base and White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico in April — also caused GPS receivers used by New Mexico state police and by fire and ambulance crews to lose reception. In addition, GPS receivers built into farm equipment made by John Deere lost signals, as did most General Motors' OnStar navigation systems.
Last week RTCA, a nonprofit group that advises the FAA, released the results of its own interference tests and found that LightSquared's use of airwaves closest to the GPS spectrum would cause a complete loss of GPS receiver function over large metropolitan areas.
Despite the test results released so far, the FCC insists the interference questions are far from settled. Some of the tests to date may have relied on different assumptions, metrics and mitigation assumptions, and so may not accurately reflect the potential for interference as a result of how the network may be operated.
LightSquared executive vice president said he remains confident that the company's new network and GPS systems can co-exist. After all, he noted, findings of interference do not come as a surprise. What matters, he said, is what can be done about the interference.
Among the solutions outlined by the government working group: modifying LightSquared's antenna patterns and reducing the power levels of its base stations; limiting the slices of airwaves that LightSquared can use or moving the company to a different part of the spectrum; and installing better filters on GPS receivers to screen out LightSquared's signals.
GPS makers and dell refurbished users are particularly concerned about the final option since they say it could take many years — and possibly billions of dollars — to upgrade all of the GPS receivers in use.


Nintendo was targeted in a recent online data attack, but no personal or company information was lost, the Japanese maker of the Wii game console said Sunday.
The server of an affiliate of Nintendo Co.'s U.S. unit was accessed unlawfully a few weeks ago, but there was no damage. There were no third-party victims, but it is a fact there was some kind of possible hacking attack.
The damage from what could be part of a recent spate of such data breaches targeting big-name brands was more serious at rival Sony Corporation.
Sony has said massive personal information, including email addresses, names and birth dates, and involving more than 100 million users, is suspected of having been stolen after security was compromised in April for its network service for the Play Station 3 game machine, for other online services and, in the past week, from Sony Pictures' website.
It is still unclear who is behind the attacks at Sony or Nintendo, based in Kyoto.
Hackers calling themselves Lulz Security, a reference to Internet jargon for "laugh out loud", claim to have compromised more than 1 million Sony users' personal information, posting many of the details to the Internet.
Lulz Security also claimed credit for the Nintendo attack, posting what they said was a Nintendo server configuration file to the Web. The group added that they pulled the hack off just for fun.
The group said they were not targeting Nintendo, adding they like the N64 (gaming console) too much, they hope Nintendo plugs the gap.
Tokyo-based Sony has said it is strengthening security measures. It has contacted the FBI and other authorities for an investigation into the cyber attacks.


Another massive data breach at Sony has left hackers exulting, customers steaming and security experts questioning why basic fixes haven't been made to the company's stricken cybersecurity program.
Hackers say they managed to steal a massive trove of personal information from Sony Pictures' website using a basic technique which they claim shows how poorly the company guards its users' secrets. Security experts agreed Friday, saying that the company's security was bypassed by a well-known attack method by which rogue commands are used to extract sensitive data from poorly-constructed websites.
Coming on the heels of a massive security breach that compromised more than 100 million user accounts associated with Sony's PlayStation and online entertainment networks, the latest attack suggested that hackers were lining up to give the company a kicking.
Culver City, California-based Sony Pictures has so far declined to comment beyond saying that it is looking into the reported attack — which saw many users' names, home addresses, phone numbers, emails, and passwords posted on the Web.
It wasn't clear how many people were affected. The hackers, who call themselves Lulz Security — a reference to the Internet jargon for "laugh out loud"— boasted of compromising more than 1 million users' personal information — although it said that a lack of resources meant it could only leak a selection on the Web. Their claim could not be independently verified, but several people whose details were posted online confirmed their identities.
Lulz Security ridiculed Sony for the ease with which it stole the data, saying that the company stored peoples' passwords in a simple text file, something it called disgraceful and insecure.
Several emails sent to accounts associated with the hackers as well as messages posted to the microblogging site Twitter were not returned, but in one of its tweets Lulz Security expressed no remorse.
Claiming that innocent people whose data they leaked should blame Sony.
Sony's customers — many of whom had given the company their information for sweepstakes draws — appeared to agree.
A 39-year-old computer instructor in Ohio, said he was extremely upset to find email address and password posted online for the whole world to see. He has since been changing his passwords on every site that uses a login. Sony stored his passwords in plain text instead of encrypting the information. It shows little respect to their customers.He and others complained that they had yet to hear from the company about the breach, news of which is nearly a day old.
The chief technology officer for the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit — a research group devoted to monitoring Internet threats — was emphatic when asked whether users' passwords could be left unencrypted. He commented that passwords should always be hashed. Some kind of encryption should be used. He has been critical of Sony's security in the past, and said the company needed to take a hard look at how it safeguards its data.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sony Ericsson Introduces The Xperia Play

The Xperia Play is Sony Ericsson's latest bid to regain relevance in the U.S. Once a thriving handset manufacturer, the company was late in adopting Google Inc.'s Android software and didn't manage to capitalize on the early success of the smartphone market. As a result, it has been forced to play catch-up around the world, and particularly in the U.S.
With so many Android handsets in the market, Sony Ericsson had to go the extra mile to set itself apart. The Xperia Play, which Verizon Wireless began selling a week ago for $199.99 with a two-year contract, does just that.
The big selling point: a slide-out bottom half that mimics the trademark PlayStation-controller layout. It includes a direction pad, physical control buttons on the upper corners and face, and two circular touchpads in the center that take the place of the twin thumbsticks found on Sony's Dual Shock controllers.
It's an eye-catching feature, and one that quickly hooks those who own PlayStation 3s.
An avid gamer spent several hours a day for a week using the Xperia Play, and enjoyed it immensely. It comes preloaded with six games, including Electronic Arts Inc.'s "Sims" and "Madden NFL 11," plus Sierra Entertainment Inc.'s "Crash Bandicoot." The games ran smoothly thanks to a 1 gigahertz processor and an extra graphics processor. He appreciated the option of physical buttons instead of a touch screen when playing Madden. They gave him more precise control over the virtual version of Eli Manning, as well as an improved ability to handle a spaceship in "Star Battalion". Another benefit of physical controls over virtual ones: he wasn't covering the screen with his fingers, allowing a full view of the game.The controls aren't perfect. He found the circular touchpads to be clumsy and unresponsive, making games such as "Brothers in Arms 2," from Gameloft frustrating to play.
While the games carry the PlayStation-certified label, they are related to Sony's videogame system by name only. PlayStation 3 or Playstation Portable games won't work on the Xperia Play. Instead, Sony Ericsson is encouraging developers to take existing mobile games and add support for its control pad, something the company says is easy to do.
It's a smart move that opens up the device to a wider array of games. If Sony Ericsson had insisted on exclusive titles or games that only work for the Xperia Play, it would have greatly limited the customer base and discouraged developers from looking even looking at the phone.
Sony Ericsson said the Xperia Play launched with a respectable 60 titles that are compatible with its controller. It expects to have 150 games by the end of the year.
Still, the open philosophy means that aside from the specialized controls, there really isn't a good reason to choose the Xperia Play over a cornucopia of rival smartphones. All of the games available on this phone are already found on other Android phones and Apple Inc.'s iPhone.
As a result, the phone is recommend for dedicated gamers, particularly ones who are tired of lugging around a phone and another portable gaming device. This is perfect if you own a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 at home, and look to spend a fair chunk of time on the road playing games. But if all you care about are some casual games, the Xperia Play probably presents too many sacrifices. The phone is bulky, primarily because of the extra, bottom half for gaming. Sony Ericsson says the controller has to be substantial enough for gamers to properly grip the device.
If you're not into gaming, there are thinner phones and devices that can tap into the super-fast 4G wireless network. At 4.7 inches high, 2.4 inches wide, 0.63 of an inch thick and 6.2 ounces, the Xperia Play outsizes and outweighs the 4.8-ounce iPhone 4.
The Xperia Play works decently as a phone, though there can be difficulty hearing callers properly in loud public places. The speakers, however, will loudly broadcast a game or voice call.
The smartphone runs on Gingerbread, the latest available version of Android for smartphones. The phone feels zippy when you swipe from screen to screen, browse the Internet and open applications.
Rather than follow the trend of placing illuminated touchscreen keys at the bottom of the phone, Sony Ericsson opted for a thin set of physical keys for the home, back, menu and search functions. Unfortunately, those keys are hard to find in dim light, and there are no lighted icons, leaving people fumbling for the right key in the dark.
Battery life is acceptable. Sony Ericsson claims five hours of game play, though in a test, in which a played a game nonstop, it was closer to four and a half hours before the low-power warning showed. The company says the Xperia Play is rated for seven hours of talk time.
The Xperia Play is a major gamble for a company that hasn't had a hot device in the U.S. since the Walkman phone, launched in late 2005. But in making something so unique with the Xperia Play, Sony Ericsson may have carved out too narrow of a niche for itself.
This phone is a solid choice if gaming is your No. 1 priority.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Apple’s iPad launch in April of 2010, left computer manufacturers fighting for a piece of the tablet pie. The obsession with tablet computing will be on full display this week as Computex, the world's second-largest computer show, begins its annual five-day run in Taipei. The prominence of tablets underscores a dramatic shift under way in the personal computer industry - and keenly felt in Taiwan, which is home to some of the world's biggest PC manufacturers - as many consumers opt to buy a tablet rather than a Cheap Dell Notebooks.
Computex will feature more than 50 tablet models with big names including Lenovo Group Ltd. and Toshiba Corp. having their products displayed including Juniper SSG Firewalls.
Researchers have predicted slower growth in PC sales this year because of the rising consumer interest in tablets and the impact of Computer Parts Wholesalers. Researchers recently cut their sales growth forecast for global PC sales in 2011 from 15.9 percent to 10.5 percent. According to IHS iSuppli, world PC shipments declined 0.3 percent year-on-year to 8.1 million units in the first quarter of 2011, with sales by No. 3-ranked Acer plunging 20 percent.
Many analysts say it may take two or three years before mobile device software from Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. can catch up with iPads, which have thousands of applications for consumers to choose from. That may mean a hard time for many PC makers in the short term.
Research states Apple Inc. had a 73 percent share of the tablet market in the last quarter of 2010. South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. was a distant second with 17 percent. It said 2010 tablet sales totaled 18 million units. Apple is expected to account for 70-80 percent of 2011 tablet sales that it predicts will reach 50 million units.
Besides tablets, Computex will also feature corporate and home servers and other cloud-based computing equipment and services, a sector Taiwanese firms have recently entered to make up for shortfalls in PC sales.
The world's top contract laptop manufacturer, Taiwan-based Quanta Computer Co., is among those producing servers for global firms such as Google.
Cloud computing involves running applications in web browsers. The cloud allows users to store and retrieve data over the Internet whenever it is needed, instead of saving it on their own computers.
At least 10 of the tablet models to be shown at Computex are powered by Intel Corp.'s new Atom chip, the U.S. technology giant's first microprocessor designed for tablets. Intel has moved into the fast growing market now dominated by chips using designs by UK-based ARM Holdings.
The new Atom delivers improved video playback, fast Internet browsing and longer battery life.
There is a tremendous amount of experimentation going on in the industry. Tablets, which are more popular in mature markets, will not replace used computers, noting the strong PC demand in Asia and emerging markets.
Taiwanese high-tech firms are also entering the mobile device market pressured by Apple, whose market dominance - extending to the second generation iPad2 - has cut into their PC sales and dented the profits of some.
Taiwan's top two PC vendors, Acer Inc. and AsusTek Computer Inc., are among those using Computex to display a range of touch-screen tablet computers. Their tablets run on the Android operating system that Google distributes free to allow quick Web browsing or film viewing, or on Microsoft mobile software that mostly targets the commercial market.
Acer and AsusTek have promoted their tablets - Iconia Tab and Transformer among others - as having expandable memory slots, hoping to lure consumers with more storage needs. The iPads don't have built-in USB ports.
In addition, the companies say their sleek devices can become full-fledged laptops when plugging them into a keyboard docking station for easy typing.
In terms of tablet prices, Apple's big orders give it a huge edge, while South Korean Samsung Electronics is able to bring costs down by making key components in house - an advantage denied local makers.
So far, the Taiwanese company with the best success in selling mobile devices is HTC Corp.
The company manufactured the first handset based on the Android operating system in 2008. It has since marketed a wide range of smartphones to meet different tastes, and has recently introduced a movie viewing program called "HTC Watch." HTC's sales jumped to 9.7 million handsets in the first quarter, up from 3.3 million a year earlier.
HTC's first tablet, the 7-inch Flyer, sold well in pre-orders in Taiwan this month, vendors say. Its 16 gigabyte Wi-Fi version is priced at $499, the same as the 9.7-inch iPad. But HTC says its smaller-size device has an advantage, because it is lighter, and more manageable than the iPad or used hp integrity servers.
By contrast, Acer and AsusTek have pursued a low-price strategy. Their Iconia Tab and Transformer models - despite having larger 10.1-inch screens - are priced at $450 to $500.
By far Apple leads the market when compared to Taiwanese companies who typically have high prices on their tablets.