Artificial intelligence is poised to explode, much like the internet in the 1990s. But with no clear market and no advanced research, how can Taiwan find its niche in this global tsunami and what will it need to do to strike success?
Taiwan has never had a more industry-oriented science and technology minister. Chen Liang-gee is the most aggressive government official when it comes to investing in artificial intelligence (AI). What does he have in mind? The following are excerpts from our exclusive interview with Chen, in his own words:
Even with open curricula and Internet-based direct broadcasts available in China, a paid subscription knowledge platform has attracted 1.5 million users and garnered NT$1.3 billion in annual revenue. How has it done it?
Live streaming has not provided the payout many anticipated, but a new model has emerged in China that could fill in the gap – paid subscription knowledge sharing platforms. How have they been able to rise to prominence?
China’s startup scene is no longer just about the Internet but also about a trend toward premium products. As China’s growing middle class cares less about a product's price-performance ratio, a new group of service providers has emerged to tap the premium product market.
As it tries to reinvent itself, China is facing several daunting threats that could provoke social turmoil. CommonWealth Magazine went to China to identify those perils and see what Beijing is doing to cope with them.
For the past nine years, Taiwan’s machinery industry has tried to break the trillion- dollar mark in terms of annual output, but so far this challenge has proven insurmountable. This year might be different. Why?
A self-described risk taker whose philosophy rests on encouraging imagination through play might seem more like PIXAR or Tesla than a government agency. But Tekes, Finland’s state funding agency, is different.
The Asian Silicon Valley vision of President Tsai Ing-wen is starting to take shape with the help of two Taiwan-born Silicon Valley veterans who specialize in technology development and fundraising, but many challenges remain.
With the advance of medical technology, physicians need to communicate not only with patients but also with engineers. The definition of “professional" now includes being able to apply new technologies and keep up with technological progress.
TSMC Chairman Morris Chang, one of Taiwan’s most respected business people, opens up in this interview with CommonWealth Magazine about the future of the high-tech and semiconductor sectors and the state of labor-management relations in Taiwan.
Pile after pile of waste tires stacked in small mountains comprise a “Taiwanese landscape” that Enrestec is determined to eliminate. The company’s turning junk tires into new tires and toner cartridges has attracted global attention.
Countries around the world are embracing the idea of a “circular economy” in which resources remain in use for as long as possible and nothing goes to waste. Taiwan was late to jump on the bandwagon, but a few companies are showing the way.
On a recent visit to Taiwan, Under Armour (UA) CEO Kevin Plank warned Taiwan’s contract manufacturers: Cost cutting no longer results in any meaningful competitive advantage, as rapid innovation disrupts existing business models and revolutionizes manufacturing.
Nike has long been the powerhouse in the athletic apparel world. But now under pressure from Under Armour and other upstarts, it is relying on innovation to stay ahead of the pack, says Nike CEO Mark Parker in an interview with CommonWealth Magazine.
Merida resolved in 2011 to invest NT$1 in earnings per share to sponsor a Europe-based ProTour team, but it quickly discovered that materials, manufacturing, design, and branding were just as important as money in achieving success at the highest level.
It’s a company most people have never heard of, but its manufacturing prowess rivals that of Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn, and it supplies soles to nine of the world’s 10 biggest sports shoe brands. Here’s Shun Chan Industra’s story.
From badminton rackets to bicycles and soccer balls, "Made in Taiwan" sporting goods have reached the pinnacles of their respective fields and generated NT$500 billion in annual output. How do they plan to sustain their run of success?
The first Taiwanese company to adopt Industry 4.0 is a textile manufacturer that’s been around for decades. It is hoping a NT$450 million investment in a new brain for its production complex will help it cope with the challenges of the information age.
Multitasking production lines, machines that talk to each other, smart transporters that can call their own elevators – these futuristic scenes have become reality in Taiwan as the BenQ Group strives to emulate German giant Siemens.
The government-financed “Plattform Industrie 4.0” is the major promoter of the revolutionary Industry 4.0 concept in Germany. Platform chief Henning Barthien tells CommonWealth Magazine of the concept’s benefits and challenges.
Fifty-eight seconds. That’s all it takes BMW to produce a customized car, Siemens to make a customized controller or Optima to make a customized bottle of perfume. Industry 4.0 is redefining how things are made and sold in the 21st century.
A new government took power in Taiwan on May 20, and its top economic planner, Chen Tain-jy, is already feeling pressure to quickly energize an economy in the doldrums. His solution? Have the government take the lead in rekindling investment.
Though little known, most British tech companies have developed key technologies and are now attracting the attention of international tech giants. Taiwan, a smaller market like Britain, could learn a lesson from their low-profile approach.
Several emerging industries have risen up to ride the digital wave, but does Taiwan have what it takes to capitalize? If the country hopes to spawn a “Digital Taiwan,” it will have to integrate its strong “hardware” sector with new software.
Google Taiwan managing director Chien Lee-feng believes Taiwan has many advantages it can use in pursuing a digital future, but he says it needs to recognize them and put a priority on talent development if a “Digital Taiwan” is to emerge.
Anything, it seems, can be done or sold online, and Chinese vendors are betting big on “Internet Plus” and its scale, speed, and impact. But will it lead to a new wave of growth in China or end up as a money game that creates a major economic bubble?
Fresh off its acquisition of GE’s venerable home appliance unit, Haier is now the world’s biggest home appliance brand. CEO Zhang Ruimin, at the helm since 1984, is taking bold steps as he sets out to “change the world.”
Five years ago, Innolux, Chimei and TPO Displays merged to become Taiwan's flat panel leader. The company then fell NT$530 billion into debt after a slump in the global display market, but teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, it somehow recovered.
The artificial intelligence field is exploding, with companies, societies and countries all desperate to get in on the game. More than 1,000 startups have bet on the field and its NT$16 trillion market potential.
For a company, profits and investments are like the black and white stones in the traditional game of Go. Which move should be made in the current situation? There is no harm in listening to what artificial intelligence has to say.
Taiwan’s manufacturing sector has long focused on low-cost contract manufacturing for major brands. But that’s changing as Taiwan now stands as a driver of innovation for well-known global companies such as Burberry, Victoria’s Secret, and Ferrari.
Hon Hai Precision Industry, the world’s biggest contract electronics manufacturer, is close to acquiring Sharp of Japan. What is behind Hon Hai’s willingness to risk it all financially to take over the venerated but money-losing Japanese electronics giant?
FinTech – financial technology – has become a hot trend in finance, but Taiwanese business schools have been slow to recognize its growing importance. A few prominent institutions are trying to change that, hoping they’re not too late.
Everest Textile President Roger Yeh has invested tens of millions of NT dollars to build Taiwan’s first intelligent textile production line. Yeh believes that, if Taiwan’s textile cluster is well-estasblished, there’s no reason to fear the red supply chain.
Taiwan has made a “non-nuclear homeland” a priority. But with renewable energy technology and investment lacking and limits to energy-saving initiatives, Taiwan will find it hard to cut emissions, eliminate nuclear power and keep electricity prices low.
The Germans pay three times as much for electricity than the Taiwanese, yet Germany has been making great efforts to phase out cheaper nuclear power, investing instead in reducing carbon emissions and developing renewable energy sources. What can Taiwan learn from this?
The bionic robot designed by Japanese scientist Hiroshi Ishiguro can speak, act in a play and host a TV program.
Aside from robots resembling human beings, Ishiguro has also released a simple companion robot that he predicts will become as indispensable to us in the future as smartphones
Engel Wu has resisted the urge to pursue quick profits in China, instead staying in Taiwan to oversee Protech Systems’ transformation from the bleak PC industry to the opportunity-rich industrial computer (IPC) sector and its 50% margins.
Through mergers and acquisitions, strategic alliances and dedicated factories, the electronic manufacturing service provider Ennoconn Corp., a subsidiary of Hong Hai, has reinvented itself as a maker of customized industrial computers.
Many of Taiwan’s PC makers are stuck in low-margin purgatory. Not Adlink Technology. Through its heavy investment in R&D, the industrial PC maker sells sophisticated products that generate solid returns.
Foreseeing the volatility of consumer electronics 10 years ago, Advantech Co. set its sights on industrial computers. The strategy now has it positioned at the forefront of Taiwan's – and China's–foray into "Industry 4.0" and the Internet of Things.
In its first ever "Digital Life Survey," CommonWealth Magazine found Taiwan's Internet users to be among the most avid fans of social media across the globe, and have distinct online behavior patterns that will dictate how companies position themselves in the future.
Taiwan has emerged as the world's biggest exporter of the custard apple-like fruit, the atemoya. But mindless competition among Taiwanese trading companies and dependence on China is threatening the riches derived from this heavenly gift.
Foxsemicon Integrated Technology is going public after Terry Gou almost gave up on it. Here's how one of Gou's veteran generals took a perennial money loser and turned it into a semiconductor industry stalwart.
PTT was just the first stop on a magical software journey that has taken him to Microsoft, big data and even artificial intelligence. Currently working in the U.S., Ethan Tu is looking forward to the day when he harnesses Taiwan's "software power."
Automotive electronics represent the IT sector's next major growth engine and an opportunity for Taiwan to transform itself. It's no wonder, then, that Taiwan's tech players are eager to find ways into the global automotive supply chain.
The automotive industry is currently embroiled in a fierce battle with the IT, telecommunications and Internet sectors for supremacy in the age of connected vehicles and new mobility solutions. As new paradigms begin to emerge, collaboration across sectors is the key to win.
The entire world is engaged in a battle for innovation and transformation supremacy. Qu Daokui, one of China's foremost robotics experts, tells CommonWealth how China will go from the world's manufacturer to a manufacturing superpower.
Unable to tackle the Internet of Things alone, big Taiwanese electronics companies are building strategic alliances with startups to get in on the ground floor. Few are pursuing the opportunity more aggressively than Acer.
Taiwan's media has been infatuated with Terry Gou's courtship of Sharp. But his real priority is the smart electric vehicle market, a business he sees as essential to his dream of building a NT$10 trillion empire.
Traditional yarn manufacturer Toung Loong Textile Mfg. Co. Ltd. stayed in Taiwan as industry peers flocked to China. Instead of competing on price, the company repositioned itself as a manufacturer of high-end premium yarns.
A specialized thread developed in Taiwan that is used as material for Intel, adidas, Lululemon and Under Armor smart clothing is the secret weapon high tech firms here are relying on to introduce new related products.
As it faces its fifth decade, Microsoft is making changes to compete with newer companies. Julia Liuson, corporate vice president at Microsoft, is at the forefront of the company's recent moves towards open-source software.
Waste generated by Taiwan's high-tech sector is being dumped indiscriminately around Taiwan, threatening the environment, people's health and the future of the high-tech sector itself. Has the situation reached a breaking point?
As the only U.S. FDA-approved ultrasound replacement transducer maker, Taiwan's Broadsound Corporation has come to monopolize this niche market, and is now starting to worry global brands. Here's how the company has done it.
With the support of senior executives from high-tech heavyweights TSMC and MediaTek, Maisense Inc. has developed an innovative blood pressure device that's changing the face of its industry. What's been its secret?
If a city resembled a sponge, absorbing water from storms and saving it for droughts, would we have to worry about having enough water? One extraordinary road in Xizhi not only stores and purifies water, it even regulates its temperature.
TSMC admitted at an investor conference on Jan. 15 that it has been overtaken in 16nm technology by Samsung. A big reason is Liang Mong-song, who sold out to the Korean company. Here's the story of what went down.
Key employees of Taiwan's high-tech companies are defecting to Chinese and Korean competitors, threatening the country's competitive edge. Taiwan could learn from the United States in stemming the loss of vital trade secrets.
Tongtai Machine & Tool Co. Chairman J.H. Yen worries that Taiwan is lagging behind in the intelligent manufacturing race. But his company is showing how Taiwan's key machine tool industry can keep up with the global trend.
The Internet of Things, Big Data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence are changing how we live. Germany has now adopted a development strategy embracing those trends that it hopes will lead a revolution in how things are made.
After the 2008 financial tsunami exposed the destructive nature of vulture capitalism, a new breed of social entrepreneurs sprang up in Silicon Valley who champion collaboration and networking to make the world a better place.
Passionate, engaged, and raised on digital technology, Taiwan’s young generation is the most creative ever and becoming a social force. But an inflexible education system and organizationally rigid enterprises are having trouble keeping up.
University campuses are going all-out to cultivate students’ entreprenurial spirit and forge ecosystems to support entrepreneurship, so that students come for the creativity and leave to start their own businesses.
While rival Acer was busy acquiring companies abroad to boost market share, Asustek Computer Inc. was slimming down. It pared down its 11 business groups to just three, helping it become one of the world's top five computer brands.
Merry Electronics fell to the depths after the global financial meltdown, battered by a changing smartphone industry and Chinese competition. But it survived by repositioning itself and playing to its strengths.
China is staking out an industrial policy of unprecedented ambition, creating a 120 billion renminbi fund to build an unrivaled semiconductor industry. How can Taiwan's semiconductor leaders stave off this huge threat?
Largan Precision has successfully fended off challenges from many rivals in the smartphone camera lens sector, including a Chinese upstart. The secret: secrecy itself and a sustained edge in technology.
China, Singapore, Korea and the US are all scrambling to set up R&D centers in Israel. They're also eager to uncover the country's latest technologies and poach its brightest talents. What puts Israel at the forefront of science and technology?
Chinese and South Korean display makers will soon launch eight production lines for large-size TV screens in China. How can Taiwan's leading makers of LCD TV panels survive this offensive? What are their counterstrategies?
Known in the industry as "Mr. Merger," Mitac Synnex Group chairman Matthew Miau struck again in February when he acquired IBM's customer service business, opening a new horizon for his company, and Taiwan.
After years of heavy losses, Sony Inc. has returned to profitability and declared itself ready to take on Apple and Samsung. What can Taiwan's struggling brands, Acer and HTC, learn from Sony's revival?
After sealing a five-year deal to make BlackBerry smartphones, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. has dropped another bombshell: It's setting up shop in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. What's the appeal of this laid-back second-tier city? For one thing, workers there don't go on strike.
The most important component for Google Glass is being made by Taiwan's Himax Technologies, a company that some gave up for dead two years ago. How did it come up with the technology that Google now covets?
Taiwan's NT$4 trillion IT hardware sector and 2 million engineers are being profoundly influenced by Google, coming to rely on it for their futures. CommonWealth Magazine takes a journey to see how healthy that dependence is.
Love it or hate it, Google inspires a wide range of emotions because of its commanding position in the new digital age. Eric Schmidt recently took on some of the questions and doubts when he was in Hong Kong.
Of the world's top 100 brands, only 10 percent come from small countries. Do Acer's woes prove that Taiwan or other countries without big domestic markets have trouble supporting their branding dreams?
In the age of mobile devices, the sun no longer shines on the once mighty PC makers of Taiwan. In this exclusive interview, National Taiwan University professor of management Ji-Ren Lee ponders how Taiwan's high-tech sector can achieve another revolution.
MediaTek Inc. ranked third in CommonWealth Magazine's survey of "Most Admired Companies" this year. And for good reason, as "MTK Inside" has become a third force in the smartphone industry behind only Samsung and Apple.
In 2013 new champions emerged in more industries than ever before. With ambition, courage, tenacity and innovation, Taiwan's new standard bearers deftly navigated rocky economic waters to sail ahead of the pack.
Taiwan-based Compal Electronics has been bashed as "quenching its thirst with poison" for teaming up with two major Chinese brands. But Compal president Ray Chen felt he had no other choice and sees his company as coming out on top.
Taiwan was for a time the manufacturing base for Tesla Motors, supporting the electric car maker's rise. What made Tesla turn its attentions elsewhere, and what does it mean for Taiwan's electric vehicle industry?
Once upon a time, casting a mold for a new product could take weeks. Now, your model is ready in 10 minutes. A competitive revolution for small companies, 3D printing could nullify the edge of the big corporations.
China boasts 10 times more resources than Taiwan, and 100 times the limelight. But once a Taiwanese exec has made the move to China, they often find no way back. How can Taiwan retain its native talent?
Fabless semiconductor giant Qualcomm has a hand in a third of Taiwan’s high-tech exports. In an exclusive interview, CEO Paul Jacobs discusses the company’s business model, its partnership strategy and its relationship with Taiwan.
Its stock price soaring and profits at an all-time high, TSMC has mobilized a "Grand Alliance" to battle vertically integrated Samsung and Intel. In an exclusive interview, Chairman Morris Chang explains how.
Hon Hai’s alliance with Apple rakes in NT$8 trillion in operating revenue a year. With Apple's sales in decline, Hon Hai boss Terry Gou is betting heavy, in an effort to sustain a relationship that accounts for 70 percent of its profits.
After a seven-year hiatus, Taiwan Mobile has reclaimed the title of benchmark enterprise in the telecom services sector. Amid a sour economy and an industry paradigm shift, which strengths helped it topple Chunghwa Telecom?
Long the standard-bearer of the global LCD panel industry, Sharp has fallen on hard times. But it has been given new access to the global supply chain by teaming up with the Taiwan-based Hon Hai Group.
Miniwiz Sustainable Energy Development Ltd. is turning waste into stylish, environmentally friendly products. Founder Arthur Huang, mastermind of the much-heralded EcoARK, has an ambitious goal to "let trash be reborn."
Two of Taiwan's wealthiest families are vying for dominance of the digital convergence market and the systems that deliver digital content. How will their battle for supremacy affect the average household?
Digital convergence is now viewed as a key economic indicator when comparing nations' competitiveness. As the world races to make broadband Internet universally available, what must Taiwan do to keep apace?
Smartphones and tablet computers with tiny dimensions but full of features are forecast to become the "hottest ticket" in the IT industry. This while an "M-shaped smartphone market curve" is expected to become the defining trend in this sector.
Taiwan's top-level talent is being seduced away by high pay offers, forcing the country's most admired companies to use emotional appeals to hold on to their prized executives. Is the strategy working?
With its MacBook Air, Apple fired the first salvo in the ultra-thin notebook war. Intel fired back with its Ultrabook. Behind the lighter loads in our briefcases, a battle is being waged, and some Taiwanese companies may be the big winners.
In the huge battle shaping up between Google and Apple, Taiwan's high-tech heavyweights are on the front line. The anti-Apple camp must fight three fronts, and stay mindful of other rivals lurking on the sidelines.
Although smartphones operating on the Android system have surpassed iPhone in terms of quantity, Apple remains the undisputed profit king. Those seeking to surpass Apple must first surmount three barriers.
In the fight for mobile electronic device supremacy, Taiwan's second-tier manufacturers are quietly staking a claim. Collectively, these "B-Listers" now account for a share of the tablet PC market second only to Apple.
Geek engineers meet hip hop stars – the unlikely pairing is helping Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC transform into a lifestyle brand, in a bid to counter U.S. high-tech giant Apple's dominance of mobile software applications.
ScinoPharm Taiwan Ltd. is Taiwan's biggest player in active pharmaceutical ingredients. By taking on the toughest challenges, it has turned itself into an indispensable force in the international pharmaceutical supply chain.
It's tucked away inside the smartphone in the palm of your hand. Striking while the iron is hot, Qualcomm is looking not only to gobble up the smartphone chip market, but now is also taking aim at the entire digital household.
Originally saddled with a mountain of debt and housed in a corrugated metal shed, the Goodway Group has become the world's fourth largest precision machine tool maker, with a market value of NT$7 billion.
IT powerhouse Delta Electronics is chalking up gross profit margins in excess of 20 percent – a level many Taiwanese tech companies can scarcely dream of – and they're doing it by moving toward higher-value "green power systems integration" services.
TeamChem is the first Taiwanese company that managed to break into the Japanese monopoly on the cutting-edge adhesive film that is replacing thicker connectors in electronic gadgets. Without it the new iPad would not be as slim and sleek as it is.
Taiwan's smartphone powerhouse HTC now stands as the surest check on Apple's dominance. With its orders expanding by leaps and bounds, can HTC keep focused squarely on innovation and divine what the consumer demands?
The ubiquitous Apple iPad is bringing revolutionary changes to education, music, business and even hair styling. Just step out of the house and you'll realize that tablet computers have already quietly changed the world around you.
Squatting in a university library for a year to make use of free Internet access and utilities, three college friends had a rough start. But soon they achieved a revenue stream, and broke even within a month. How did they do it?
Electronic whiteboards have made classes at Kaohsiung's Ying-Ming Junior High more lively and interactive, transporting students back in history, over mountains and across seas, as if stepping through Doraemon's "Anywhere Door."
Taiwan's oldest public high school also scores the greatest scientific accomplishments. Yet it is dedication to the liberal arts and commitment to service that give the students a balanced introduction to their world.
In the darkened depths 600 meters beneath the Earth's surface, a video link provided through a Vivotek network camera brought undying hope to countless frantic relatives on the surface throughout their ordeal.
An average of two Taiwanese are ripped off every hour due to personal data theft. Yet what may be the island's most rampant crime is seldom successfully prosecuted. How can we avoid being hacked in the digital age?
Its business is hard to describe, but many petrochemical, steel and technology companies can't do without it. Advanced Control & Systems has a lock on large-scale factory upgrades, spinning a fortune out of intelligent plant service integration.
With the rise of hot money and shrewd corporate financing, Taiwan's no-frills growth model has given way to a new expansionary game of acquisition. What capabilities will companies need in order to wage battle in this new environment?
The man who led Japan's biggest brand into the new millennium at the helm of Sony is a most un-Japanese executive. Guided by the inner rebel he kept bottled up all those years, Nobuyuki Idei seeks to lead Asia into a new era of innovation.
In Taiwanese cyberspace a myriad of fledgling community websites are challenging the dominant position of big Internet portals like Yahoo. Can Yahoo Taiwan keep its grip on the island's Internet users?
Taiwan's tech sector has recently been roiled with strife. Terry Gou and Barry Lam, Bob Tsao and K.Y. Lee... sworn partners have become completely estranged. Behind the discord lies a high-tech mid-life crisis.
Amazon's successful e-book reader Kindle has sparked a worldwide craze. Now major Taiwanese companies are hoping to get in on the action. Will any succeed in this fierce contest to create a Kindle for the Chinese-speaking world?
IBM's human capital management program systematically sifts its talent pool, shores up the skills that leadership candidates lack, and prepares a comprehensive succession plan. What lessons can Taiwan's companies learn?
Taiwan's 30 largest corporations represent a market value of NT$13 trillion. Yet 40 percent of them have not planned ahead for a smooth corporate succession. Should their millions of shareholders and employees be worried?
The Plurking craze has swept over to Taiwan's business sector. And BenQ's affable avatar Ah-Ji the Lion has done particularly well cozying up with Netizens. What is BenQ's secret formula for social media success?
How did a twentysomething salesman with few personal connections make use of the Internet to establish a customer base stretching from Taipei to Jiayi, and rise to the top ten in a sales force of more than 500?
Just as Kaspersky is occupying the top perch in the anti-virus industry, Russian software seems to be taking over the world, with Taiwanese handset brands and OEM manufacturers counting among their major customers.
After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the world swept in to scoop up Russia's skilled engineers and scientists. Now they have not only become behind-the-scenes movers and shakers in the global tech industry, they are also the key to Russia's resurgence.
Toyota for the first time ranks as the world's number-one automaker, yet it faces declining market demand. The hybrid Prius is its only model bucking that trend. Is the eco-friendly car the shot in the arm Toyota desperately needs?