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Far East IT tigers roar

From the young cubs to the full-grown males, the Asian technology tigers have been roaring at this weeks Gulf Information Technology Exhibition.

From the young cubs to the full-grown males, the Asian technology tigers have been roaring at Gitex as hi-tech firms from China, Taiwan and Korea take on the might of the US and European vendors in attempting to tap the Middle East’s burgeoning IT market.

More than 100 new companies from the Far East have taken part in this year’s Gitex and these smaller firms have been shown the way by the likes of Sony, Samsung and LG — Far Eastern firms that have become industry behemoths.

“Asian Tiger economies have always benefited from the incremental growth figures in the hardware and software sectors within the Middle East,” says Miso Tseng, sales director at Ace Forum.

“Gitex has a proven track record of being the perfect vehicle to highlight the offerings of these companies to the Middle East market,” he adds.
Among the 300-plus Far Eastern exhibitors appearing at Gitex are a number of small-to-medium sized vendors from Korea, including Jungsoft, Soretech, Nextway, Penman, Chung Won Electronics, Sevitech and Dot Wizard. According to Kelly Ryoo, managing director of Ace Media & Marketing, many of them have been here all week to make a name for themselves in the Middle East market.

“Approximately 50% of the companies that are participating in the Korean pavilion are expecting to establish their Middle East presence through Gitex. On an individual level, all the old exhibitors have taken more space per stand. Gitex enjoys excellent credentials with ICT corporates based in Korea, due to the positive experiences of past exhibitors,” he says.

While the computer cubs are looking to make a name for themselves in the local IT market, the alpha males are hoping to boost their already impressive sales in the region. BenQ, for example, expects to beat the 10% increase in business it experienced following it participation at Gitex in 2003.

“Once again we expect that being at Gitex, coupled with our new range of products, will result in us significantly growing our business in the region,” says Robert Dung, managing director, BenQ Middle East.

LG is also hoping for increased sales following this week’s activities, especially if its MP3 players, DVD recorders, tablet PCs and Xnote notebooks garner the reception the vendor expects.

“Gitex is an excellent opportunity to showcase our technology and products and we are confident this year’s event will highlight the rapid strides LG has made in the digital display, appliances and telecommunications spheres,” says P C Choi, president, LG Electronics Gulf FZE. “We are looking forward to building on our previous successes with an enhanced product line-up and state of the art technology.”

Yet shifting kit is not the only thing the Far East hi-tech tigers have been looking to do this week. A key element of their plans has been building up their brands and lodging them in consumers’ minds.

Perhaps the most brand conscious of the 300-plus Asian companies at the show is Samsung. At last year’s event the vendor dedicated a press conference to the topic and it has since invested a significant sum in turning Dubai’s Maktoum Bridge into the Samsung Bridge.

“This year and last year we spent a lot on sports marketing, for example we sponsored the FIFA Youth World Cup we were title sponsors at the Dubai Desert Classic. We have also advertised all over Maktoum Bridge in Dubai,” says Lee Byung-Woo, vice president of Samsung.

Such efforts, which have been replicated on a global scale, seem to be paying off for Samsung as BusinessWeek and Interbrand’s annual survey of the top 100 global brands had Samsung at number 21. According to Byung-Woo, this type of recognition is key if the Asian tiger is to achieve all it hopes to in the Middle East and further afield.

“We have a vision that will take us through to 2010. We have our targets and we must be one of the top three companies in the world... It is an ambitious vision but it must come true... I think this vision is possible, if you look at how quickly our brand value has grown,” he says.

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