Images of Taiwan

September 24th, 2003

Last night I sat in an Irish pub, listening to U2 and The Corrs coming from the loudspeakers, and drinking a pint of Kilkenny. Nothing too unusual about that. The strange part was that I was in Taipei, surrounded by mildly inebriated ex-pats who were telling me about the best places to buy property in Beijing.

I’m over here for various business meetings and to visit Computex – the Taiwanese equivalent of Comdex. Huge numbers of booths in three halls – I only saw a small fraction of them. Though some belong to people like Microsoft, the majority are small organisations trying to find people who will re-badge or re-sell their particular gadgets. Some are as dull as front panels for CDROM drives. Others are more interesting; the massage ball powered from the USB port, for example, is something no self-respecting geek should be without.

There are huge numbers of USB flash drives in every colour and shape you can imagine, as jewellery, as key-rings, or with built-in MP3 players. Buying small numbers here is hard. Arranging to import them in large numbers into Europe with your branding on them is easy.

It can be hard to know who actually makes what. I would admire some device at a booth, and ask whether the company made the electronics inside it, or just the case. Sometimes it would turn out that they only made the label on the front.