Gartner senior vice-president and manager of Australasian operations Bob Hayward spoke on Saturday about trends in 2005, prognosticating on what he called "successive waves of Chinese hardware companies about to hit Australia". Without mentioning specific company plans, Hayward highlighted several companies that were some of the largest technology manufacturers in the world, but virtually unknown in western markets such as Australia.
Mobile phone handset manufacturer TCL Mobile made Haywood's list, as did battery manufacturer BYD, home appliance manufacturer Haier Group and Konka Group, China's leading TV manufacturer. Hayward said that Haier and Konka at least were considered the largest manufacturers in their product sphere in the world.
TCL Mobile and Chinese competitor Ningbo Bird both signed deals in 2004 to form partnerships with Alcatel and Siemens respectively, mobile handset brands well known in Australia. TCL's deal gained exclusive use of the Alcatel brand for future handsets to be marketed outside China. Analysts said at the time that the joint venture would allow Alcatel to divest itself of its loss-making handset unit. Then there is Lenovo, which bought IBM's PC business in 2004. Robert Galush, vice president of product marketing in IBM's PC division said in January at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that Lenovo is developing plans to export Lenovo's product lines to other parts of the world after the merger between the two groups is complete.
David Nichol, brand manager for IBM's PC division in Australia and NZ told ZDNet Australia this morning that he would be assessing the possible entry of Lenovo-branded products into the Australian marketplace after the merger was complete, but that it was definitely something that would be looked at. Any new products, he said, would take into consideration the current positioning of IBM's desktop products in the corporate and government arenas.
Hayward also pointed to the success in the Australian and wider Asian markets of Korean hardware manufacturers Samsung and LG as an indicator of the potential for companies based in Asia to compete in wider markets. Samsung made more profit than Intel or Microsoft last year, said Hayward, and is currently the 'cool' brand constantly in demand in Asia. Taiwan-based companies Asus, Acer and BenQ also rated a mention. BenQ in particular has recently launched a large lineup of consumer products into the Australian market.
And not all of the interest in the Australian market is coming from China; Indian IT services companies are also eyeing domestic entries, according to Hayward. The market has already seen the entry of several large Indian outsourcing firms such as Infosys and Tata consulting.
In addition, Indian outsourcing company Satyam opened a 300-seat development centre in Melbourne only last September. Satyam is India's fourth largest software exporter. The company opened the centre with the stated aim of performing software development work for local and international clients.