BenQ Corporation History
Telephone: 886 3 359 5000
Fax: 886 3 359 9000
Incorporated: 1984 as Continental Systems
Sales: $3.75 billion (2003)
Stock Exchanges: Taiwan
Ticker Symbol: BenQ
NAIC: 334119 Other Computer Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing (pt)
Corporate Vision: Combining Culture and Core Values. While we have been refining the traditional technology sector to generate exceptional speed, flexibility, efficiency and enhancing our quality and channel connections, we have also been successfully building a BenQ culture that supports our vision. Through our four core values we motivate our people, get closer to our customers, and build our future. We Care: We want to have lifelong relationships with our customers, we seek to understand and meet their needs, care about our employees, and are concerned about our environment. We Innovate: We create, build and market innovative solutions; constantly looking for new and innovative ways to work and new ways to spark new innovation. We Uphold: Quality: We produce reliable products, but quality for us also encompasses the quality of the experience of using the product as part of a total solution that delivers lifestyle benefits. We Celebrate: Enjoyment: We aim to bring enjoyment and pleasure to our customers as we celebrate the beauty we see in life. What we have learned over the years is that the true strength of these core values is how they work together to help us bring enjoyment and quality to life. And we believe that our future success will increasingly depend on our ability to integrate not just at cultural and business-model levels but also with our customers as well.
- Acer Computers is founded as Multitech.
- Computer OEM components and systems subsidiary, Continental Systems, is established.
- The company becomes Acer Continental.
- The company becomes Acer Peripherals and refocuses as a dedicated peripherals product business, producing computer monitors and the like.
- The company opens a production subsidiary in Malaysia; a sales and marketing subsidiary is opened in the United States.
- A manufacturing subsidiary is established in Suzhou, China.
- The company goes public as Acer Peripherals; the Acer Display Technologies unit is formed to produce TFT-LCD panels.
- The company debuts its first LCD monitor; the company enters the mobile telephone market.
- The company opens a new manufacturing facility, Acer Suzhou Techno Park.
- The company is spun off as a separate company, Acer Communications & Multimedia, grouping most of Acer's contract manufacturing businesses; Bri-Link Technology Co. is acquired.
- The company changes its name to BenQ, derived from the company slogan, "Bringing Enjoyment and Quality to Life," and begins a drive to establish itself as a global brand name in computer and electronic peripherals.
- A joint venture optical drives company is formed with Philips.
Once the contract manufacturing arm of Taiwan's Acer Computer Corporation, BenQ Corporation has come into its own as a world-leading manufacturer of computer peripherals, digital media equipment, and mobile telephone and other networking and communications devices. BenQ produces LCD and CRT monitors, LCD televisions, digital projectors, and other display systems; CD-ROM, CD-RW, DVD-ROM, and DVD+RW drives, color laser printers, digital cameras, and scanners; and mobile telephones and wireless networking and communications equipment. Contract manufacturing continues to make up more than two-thirds of BenQ's revenues. Since splitting off from Acer in 2001, however, BenQ has begun a push to establish its own name--which comes from the slogan, "Bringing Enjoyment and Quality to Life"--as a world-leading peripheral products brand. The effort seems to be paying off. In just four years, the company's sales have more than doubled, topping $3.75 billion in 2003. BenQ operates manufacturing facilities in Taiwan, China, Malaysia, and Mexico. The company's operations also include a network of affiliated companies, including AU Optronics; Daxon Technology; Darfon Electronics; Airoha Technology; Copax Photonics; Darly Venture; and BenQ Guru Software Co. BenQ is led by Kuen-Yao (K.Y.) Lee and is listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange. Acer remains a major shareholder, with 14 percent of the company's stock.
Acer Offshoot in the 1980s
Stan Shih and a group of university friends founded Multitech in 1976, becoming one of the pioneers of Taiwan's computer industry. Among the new company's earliest employees was Kuen-Yao Lee, a graduate from Taiwan's prestigious National Chiao Tung University who also held an M.B.A. from Lausanne University in Switzerland. Lee quickly became an important member of the fast-rising Multitech group. In 1984, when the company--which adopted the Acer brand name in 1986--formed a dedicated contract manufacturing subsidiary, Lee became head of the new subsidiary, originally known as Continental Systems.
Continental Systems at first began producing components such as power supplies and monitors for integrated engineering workstations and other computer systems, supplying both Multitech and the fast-growing OEM market. As such the company was part of a strong trend through the 1980s, which saw Taiwan become one of the world's most important centers for contract computer component manufacturing. After Multitech adopted the Acer trade name in 1986, the subsidiary became known as Acer Continental.
In the late 1980s, Acer Continental began to focus more strongly on the computer peripherals market--leaving the development of completed systems to its parent company. The subsidiary then changed its name to Acer Peripherals to underscore its commitment to the components market. The production of monitors then became one of the company's main markets, and by the early 1990s, Acer Peripherals emerged as a significant supplier to the global OEM computer market, supplying computer manufacturers such as IBM and others.
The early part of this phase, however, occurred without Lee. After being passed over for the CEO position at the Acer parent in 1989, Lee left the company to take a position in Lausanne instead. Meanwhile, Acer Peripherals continued to expand in the early 1990s, opening a manufacturing subsidiary in Malaysia, and a series of global sales offices, such as the Acer Peripherals Labs in the United States in 1992. In this way, Acer Peripherals was able to supply support for Acer's own global expansion effort, which saw the Taiwan company emerge as one of the world's top PC makers by mid-decade.
Acer Peripherals turned to mainland China in 1993, establishing a manufacturing facility in Suzhou in order to meet the rapidly rising demand for computer peripheral products. Among these were the first CD-ROM drives, which began appearing in the early part of the decade. By 1994, Acer Peripherals had succeeded in producing its first 2X CD-ROM drive. The development of this new technology, permitting the extension of the computer's multimedia capabilities, became one of the primary drivers behind the mid-decade personal computing boom worldwide.
Acer Peripherals further extended its product range in 1995, when it debuted the AcerScan 300C flatbed scanner, one of the first scanners made affordable as a consumer-level product. This launch coincided with Acer's own emergence as one of the world's top consumer PC brands. It also coincided with K.Y. Lee's return to Acer in 1995. Arriving back at the firm, Lee was placed in charge of the Acer Peripherals subsidiary.
As a mark of independence, and of Acer Peripherals' own importance not only as a supplier to Acer, but as a leading supplier to the OEM and contract manufacturing markets, Lee moved Acer Peripherals out of the parent company's headquarters, and into its own--in Taoyuan, more than an hour's drive from its parent's headquarters.
Diversification in the 1990s
Lee now led Acer Peripherals on an ambitious drive to diversify its range of products and deepen its international penetration. One of the company's first moves was to set up Acer Display Technologies in 1996 in order to produce TFT-LCD panels for the rapidly growing LCD monitor market. Acer Peripherals also took a step toward independence that year, when it launched its stock on the Taiwan Stock Exchange.
By 1997, Acer Peripherals had succeeded in developing its first LCD-based computer monitor. The company also extended its scanner technologies with the launch of its first sheet-fed scanner that year. Meanwhile, Acer Peripherals had spotted the potential of the market for mobile telephone handsets, and in 1997 the company debuted its first GSM 900-compatible cellular phone.
The company backed up its diversification effort with the 1998 opening of a new production plant in Suzhou, called the Acer Suzhou Technology Park. In that year, as well, Acer Peripherals debuted a number of important new products, such as its first CD-RW drive, its first digital projector, and its first dye-sub photo printer. The following year, the company added a new factory in Taoyuan, and a research and development center in Taipei. The company also expanded through acquisition, buying Bri-Link Technology Co. in 2000.
Acer's rise as a world-leading computer brand had by then brought the company into increasing conflict with the customers of its contract manufacturing business--most of which were direct competitors on the computer market. In response, Acer moved to refocus itself around its core computer business and transfer its contract manufacturing and peripherals businesses to independent companies. As such, Acer Peripherals was itself spun off as a separate company, Acer Communications & Multimedia, in 2000. Acer maintained a share of just 14 percent of its former subsidiary, and also remained one of its most important customers.
The new company, led by K.Y. Lee, now grouped many of Acer's former contract manufacturing specialists, including the Acer Display Technologies (ADT) unit and others. With his new freedom to guide the company, Lee set out to turn Acer Communications & Multimedia into a global computing giant in its own right. The company took a step in the right direction in 2001 when it engineered the merger of ADT with Unipac Optoelectronics, creating AU Optronics, the world's third largest maker of TFT-LDC panels.
Global Brand Leader in the 2000s
Lee's ambitions ran still higher, however. In 2002, the company decided to adopt a new corporate and brand name, BenQ, an acronym suggested by the company's new slogan: "Bringing Enjoyment and Quality to Life." The success of the BenQ brand was swift: the company's sales began to soar, climbing from $1.7 billion in 2000, to more than $3 billion by the end of 2002--and nearly $4 billion by the end of 2003.
By then BenQ was one of the world's leading computer peripherals brands in certain segments, such as LCD monitors and optical drives and other products. The group's production and technology capacity was further enhanced by the formation of a joint venture with Dutch appliances giant Philips to produce digital store products, including CD-ROM, CD-RW, DVD-ROM, and DVD+RW drives, which were then marketed under the Philips, BenQ, or as OEM products for other brands.
Sales of BenQ's LCD monitors and televisions also took off in the early 2000s, and by 2004 the company had emerged as the world's number two-selling LCD monitor brand, trailing only Samsung of South Korea. The company also was quick to spot openings in new trends, such as the emergence of the so-called convergence of computing and home entertainment systems. In 2002, the company launched its first product to meet this fast-growing new category, the Joybook 8000 "multimedia hub." This product also marked the group's entry into the highly competitive notebook computing market.
By 2004, BenQ had become Taiwan's top-selling consumer electronics brand. BenQ also had become a prominent brand in markets such as Japan (where it was the leading seller of 17-inch monitors), China, and India. The company also was making strong headway in its drive to enter the North American and European markets. Europe was seen as holding special potential for the company, given the relatively small numbers of locally based brands there. Under K.Y. Lee's guidance, BenQ promised to fulfill its ambition to become a global brand leader in the new century.
Principal Subsidiaries: Airoha Technology Corporation; AU Optronics Corporation; BenQ Guru Software Company, Ltd.; Copax Photonics Corporation; Darfon Electronics Corporation; Darly Venture Incorporated; Daxon Technology, Inc.
Principal Competitors: Sony Corporation; IBM Corporation; Fujitsu Corporation; Toshiba Corporation; Samsung Corporation.
- Del Nibletto, Paolo, "Who Is BenQ and Why Isn't It Acer?," Computer Dealer News, January 10, 2003, p. 1.
- Einhorn, Bruce, "The Apple of the Island?," Business Week, August 9, 2004, p. 26.
- Flannery, Russell, "Breakout of a Brand," Forbes Global, February 3, 2003, p. 18.
- "No Joybook in Canada, Not Yet: Peripheral Vendor BenQ Trying Hard to Release First Notebook Ever in Canada," Computer Dealer News, May 7, 2004, p. 12.
- Taylor, Paul, "Spin-Off Establishes Its Very Own Identity," Financial Times, March 17, 2004, p. 2.
- "Watch Out Sony, Toshiba, Panasonic, Fujitsu! Here Comes BenQ," Online Reporter, March 15, 2003.
Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol.67. St. James Press, 2005.