Interview with Dr. William Wang, Vice President & General Manager of BenQ BG Imaging & Storage
- Can you give us a little background regarding BenQ and your involvement with the company?
BenQ was founded on April 21 in 1984 and the name BENQ Corporation was adopted in December 2001 to reflect the company motto “Bring Enjoyment and Quality to Life”. Currently, BenQ is ranked worldwide No.2 in LCD display, No. 3 in DVDRW, and ranked as Top 100 IT companies in the world by Business Week. There’re 4 Business Groups (BGs) in BenQ organization and they are BG Imaging & Storage, BG display, BG Digital Media, BG Networking and Communications. I am the Vice President and General Manager of BenQ BG Imaging & Storage and in charge of Imaging and Storage business.
- How does BenQ differ from the competition?
BenQ recognizes technology innovation, speed race, and quality/reliability are the essence to differentiate from other competitors as far as Storage products are concerned. Further, full product portfolio is also the key to make storage business more successful.
- What are BenQ's strengths and weaknesses?
BenQ is strong in engineering innovation & development, time to market, cost effective manufacturing, strong brand name and channel. Through the joint venture with Philips on optical storage (Philips BenQ Digital Storage, PBDS), BenQ is further enhanced by the leading technology and IP to make BenQ/PBDS even stronger in almost all aspects.
- What were your plans for this current year, and have they been fulfilled to date?
Keep leading the advancement on technology migration and speed race. So far, we are on track to lead the technology and speed race with the efforts joint made within PBDS. I expect to see our explosive performance on slim line and Blu-ray products in coming months and years.
- What is your vision and what are your plans for the future of BenQ.
As far as optical storage technology is concerned, technology migrates toward higher capacity applications like Blu-ray and near field recording is being pursuing. As far as optical storage business is concerned, our intention is to reach worldwide market share over 20% on all product portfolio and continue to be the leader on DVDRW and BD technology, as well as slim-line products.
- Your opinion on hardware in general (trends, future developments, difficulties).
Low power, miniature design, thin form factor, and highly integrated system are the trend. Advancement on semiconductor technology and MEMS technology can make many things possible, but the process of “standardization” sometimes takes quite significant step and time to move forward.
- Concentrating on optical storage, what do you have planned for the future and where do you believe the market is heading?
Optical Storage will continue to grow in both Consumer and IT sectors to fulfill the market and consumers’ expectation. Compared with small capacity flash memory and confined hard disk, optical disc has advantage on data capacity per unit dollar, further least expensive to share the information. This is the position that no any other storage devices/media can substitute for.
- With the rise in the DVD format, and with projections forecasting that DVD writers will outsell CD writers, while the CD is going to be with us for quite a while yet, what role will each format play in the future?
CD and DVD will co-exit in this world for long time. However, some regions (like Japan) might migrate faster toward DVD than the others. India and Latin America will prefer CD than DVD unless the pricing is comparable between these two.
- So far, BenQ hasn't announced any plans for Blue Laser technology. Do you plan to support Blu-Ray or HD DVD?
Blu-ray project is ongoing and will be released in 4Q/05 - 1Q/06. In the meanwhile, we also keep our eyes on HD DVD development as long as the consumers demand for this technology. We are confident in fulfilling the consumers’ need.
- What regions represent the biggest markets for BenQ's optical products at the moment, and which regions do you see as being potentially big?
At present, US market is our single biggest market. We arrange more resources to develop European and Asian Pacific markets. Among all these, China and Taiwan are the two markets that we invest the most because they are our home markets.
- How big a role does R&D play?
R&D is the backbone of everything for optical storage business. All the product creation, progress development, design structure, and procedure improvement rely on R&D.
- Do you design your own circuit boards and write your firmware for your optical drives in-house, and how much of your drives is actually your own design?
Yes, we develop our own hardware and system. It is created by our engineers while our partners like Philips are focus on future technology innovation, standardization, and key components development.
- An added cost for any manufacturer is the royalties that must be paid. What are your views on this and what would you like to see change here?
BenQ honors patent holder’s value and strictly follows the business practice.
- Recently, BenQ and Philips announced their partnership. How long has this been in the making and what prompted both companies to make this move?
Philips and BenQ have been working closely on optical storage since 1994. Philips is leading on technology and BenQ is efficient on product realization and production. The joint venture further formalized our close cooperation and to cope with the trend of ODD arena in Asia.
- What are the benefits from such a co-operation, for BenQ and Philips and for end users?
Philips has been outstanding on new technologies innovation and BenQ has fast development execution and efficient production operation. Joint venture of PBDS combines the strengths of both companies to make it more competitive in all aspects.
- When do you see development of DVD Recorders stopping? 16X-speed limit has been reached, so what is next?
Speed race on double layer and DVD+/-RW is till on going. It is too early to say that speed race is saturated. Even though the Blu-ray is yet to be on the market in mass volume, the speed race has been very intensive already.
- What is the advantage of releasing so many DVD recorders with similar and upgradeable features? For example, there was the DW800A/822A/830A series, and now we have DW1600/1610/1620, etc...?
We hope consumers are able to enjoy the fancy technology and convenience as early as possible. While we’re standing at the technology breakthrough points, we managed 2 or 3 steps to bring up the new technologies without any waiting. We also prepared economical option for entry users through these arrangements.
- Most BenQ models in the beginning support the +R format and afterwards, with a firmware upgrade, -R. Is there a specific BenQ policy on this; is it something to do with chipset limitations, something else?
We heard consumers’ need, and that’s the way we manage ourselves. DVD+R/RW format has its advantages and is very versatile for both AV and Data applications. We have been promoting this excellent format as a default option. There’s no limitation on hardware design for –R/RW format support in fact, and we implemented the relevant support once we learned the expectations from consumers. We will keep exploring what the market demands for.