When Taiwanese hear that I’m from Germany, they will probably mention, next to pork knuckle and beer, brand names like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Siemens etc. When I think of brand names in Taiwan, for example Acer and Asus, I think that they don’t have quite the same glamour than German brand names, but particularly in the electronics industry, Taiwan produces absolutely world-class products.
When I was young (yeah, now I’m kinda old…), I was very interested in all kinds of electronic products. That time, the market for computers and computer accessories just began to grow, and computers got gradually cheaper and appeared on the consumer market. When you looked on the motherboard inside a computer, you could very often read the label Made in Taiwan. Up to now, many people still don’t know that a great number of motherboard components is actually produced from Taiwanese companies. When I started to work as a translator in Taiwan, I already knew some Taiwanese manufacturers of electronic devices, but I didn’t imagine that there are actually so many of them.
Looking at names, I thought that many products were made from American companies. For example, until recently I thought that Realtek (sound cards and network cards) and Mustek (scanner) are American brands, but like so many other manufacturers of computer accessories, both companies are actually based in Taiwan.
Besides computer hardware, there are also brand names in the software segment. Everyone who ever watched a DVD on the computer probably knows products from Cyberlink, e.g. Power DVD, or those who care about Internet security probably know products of Trend Micro (although it’s officially a Japanese company, it was actually founded by Taiwanese), e.g. PC-cillin. Furthermore, there is a large number of small hardware and software manufacturers. I suppose that each office building in Taiwan houses at least of them.
Thinking about Taiwanese brand names outside the electronics industry, I just can think of Giant. However, I originally also thought that it is an American company, since how should one know from the name „Giant“ that a company from Taiwan stays behind it? I think when it’s about brand awareness, Taiwanese companies have a real marketing problem. Why there are so many world-class products, but no equivalent brand awareness?
One reason might be that the history of German companies known in Taiwan is much longer compared to the Taiwanese companies, thus they simply had more time to take root on the market. Additionally, „Germany“ probably triggers another reaction in Taiwanese ears as „Taiwan“ does in the ears of Germans, so it supposedly has also something to do with a country’s general reputation. And currently, many Germans are not quite happy with Taiwanese companies. I don’t know if Taiwanese can still remember that BenQ bought the mobile phone subsidiary from Siemens in 2005, but about one year later stopped any financial support due to high losses which lead to the bankruptcy of the German division of the company named BenQ Mobile Germany and the loss of many jobs. Subsequently, BenQ has a very bad image in Germany and from the marketing point of view, it’s just a disaster.
To conclude, I’d like to mention something quite interesting: I somehow found out that I recently take high value on (electronic) products from Taiwan. At the moment I own a TV from Chimei, two computer screens from Chimei, a PC from Gigabyte, a PC from MSI, a notebook from Acer, a smartphone from HTC and the most precious, a Taiwanese wife 😉