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Teeing up for Taipei: Why Computex matters

Brad Chacos | June 3, 2013
Computex is coming next week. Why should you care? You'll know after reading this.

June is right around the corner. You know what that means!

Er, wait. You might not, actually. It means Computex is coming next week.

Every year, in early June, tech movers and shakers converge in Taipei, Taiwan, for Computex, a five-day trade show celebrating all things computing-related. Computex is big--it's often the biggest expo of the year for PC manufacturers such as Acer, AMD, and Asus. Computex is revelatory. Computex is important.

One of the biggest reasons for that: Computex keeps it real.

Boots on the ground, not pie in the sky
Let's be honest: The gadgets unveiled at CES and CeBIT may be killer, but they're usually prototypes or reference designs that surface for that particular show and then disappear for months on end. Ultra-high-res 4K displays, flexible smartphone screens, vibrating forks, and their ilk are cool, but they're experimental, big-picture things that show what might one day be. They're not real-world products destined to appear in stores anytime soon. Tellingly, most of the standouts at CES 2013 have yet to hit the streets, more than six months later.

But things are different at Computex.

"The time of the year is perfect to show what the holiday season has in store for us," says Carolina Milanesi, Gartner's research vice president for consumer technologies. "In a way, CES is the promise of what could be, and Computex is the execution of that promise."

Patrick Moorhead, founder and principal analyst for Moor Insights and Strategy, has been to Computex 15 times, and he echoes Milanesi's sentiment almost word for word.

"Computex's timing in June makes it a very good time to go showcase the real products that will be assorted during the back-to-school and holiday timeframe," he says. "CES and CeBIT aren't optimal for this because the shows are too early."

What is dreamed at CES is delivered at Computex. At CES, Intel showed off a pie-in-the-sky reference design for a hybrid laptop powered by its long-promised Haswell processor. At Computex, Intel is actually launching Haswell.

Likewise, last year's Computex was a parade of live tiles, hybrids, and touchscreens, as Asian manufacturers gave physical-hardware form to the promises of Windows 8's software.

What gadgets will companies unveil at the show this year? We can only guess for now, but one thing is certain: What you see at Computex, you'll get by the holidays.

Location, location, location
If Computex is so critical to the crucial holiday push, why don't its organizers move the show stateside, where it would be bound to garner more American attention? Well, Computex is produced by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council, and that alone cancels out any thoughts of transferring the show to the United States.


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