From AI to VR at Computex 2017

Computex, Taiwan’s premier trade show and one of the world’s largest computer technology exhibitions, celebrated its 37th anniversary this year. But when asked by a reporter at the closing press conference whether Computex is struggling to keep up with new upstart technology expos such as CES Asia in Shanghai and CommunicaAsia in Singapore, Walter Yeh, President and CEO of the show’s main organizer, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), said: “At 37 years old, we are young and energetic. We are transforming. We have a lot of new things, so Computex is also a startup.”

Computex started as a forum to connect Taiwan’s thousands of technology makers both big and small with global buyers during Taiwan’s heyday as the foremost maker of PC hardware. Yet the development of alternative suppliers, especially in China, and the stagnation of PC sales while alternative technological platforms such as mobile phones and tablets were taking off, left Computex with many questioning its relevance. But beginning in 2016 and continuing this year, Computex has repositioned itself away from simply showcasing its supply chain manufacturers to “building global technology ecosystems,” according to Cori Shieh, Secretary General for the Taiwan Association of Virtual and Augmented Reality (TAVAR).

“In sync with industry trends, we set the themes from internet computing to IoT and AI,” Shieh explained. “You can find everything from hardware devices to software solutions at Computex.”

Photo: Innovex

TAITRA head Yeh observed that the ongoing cooperation between TAITRA and the Taipei Computer Association (TCA) in organizing the event has been a key factor in the show’s success. “TCA is focused more on the industry and TAITRA is an international trade organization, so we work together,” Yeh said. “It’s a win-win cooperation and through this cooperation we can continue the transformation of the show continuously.”

In keeping with the concept of “technology ecosystems,” Computex 2017 was arranged under five broad themes: AI and Robotics; IoT Applications; Innovations and Startups; Business Solutions; and Gaming and Virtual and Augmented Reality (AR/VR).

Held May 30-June 3 at four venues, including the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center, Hall 1, the Taipei World Trade Center Exhibition Halls 1 and 3, and the Taipei International Convention Center, the show featured 1,600 exhibitors with 5,010 booths and attracted over 41,378 visitors from 167 countries, a 1% increase over last year. While China, Japan, and the United States continue as the top sources for visitors, Computex 2017 saw significant increases in the number of visitors from South and Southeast Asia, perhaps reflecting the government’s new Southbound Policy of improving relations with these countries, with double digit increases in visitors from Thailand (30%), Indonesia (22%), and India (21%). Among the exhibitors were some of the world’s biggest local and global technology firms, including Microsoft, AMD, Asus, and Gigabyte, in addition to numerous local technology SMEs.

Reactions from visitors and exhibitors alike was strongly positive. Ted Chan, a supervisor in the sales marketing division of gaming keyboard maker Clevo Co., noted the expo seemed to attract more global firms than in previous years. “The competition is more international,” he said, attributing the change to the growing popularity of PC games and e-sports.

Ivy Lee, assistant manager in corporate marketing department for Aten International Co., maker of power distribution and control systems, said her firm was quite happy with the flow of visitors and the numbers of inquiries and sales leads that they had received.