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Taiwan computer makers plot against Apple

A computer manufacturer sits stoically, his necktie knot loose, pondering one question: What are we going to do about the iPad?

Visitors test new tablets at the Computex computer expo in Taipei, Taiwan, on Thursday, June 2. The world's second largest computer show, Computex Taipei, ended on June 4.

Wally Santana/AP

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It’s the Disney of computer shows. The possibility of something once thought impossible coming true hangs above the maze of gaudy booths and dazzling displays of electronic gadgetry slated for to go on sale in the second half of the year.

There are tablet PCs with detachable keyboards – easier for typing than the usual touch screen – laptops with built-in speakers as powerful as an external setup and half-phone, half-computer handheld devices with 3D displays.

Tech firms from across the world come with showgirls to vie for the attention of corporate buyers, among the 36,000 people expected at the show. A fantasy fulfilled could be a lucrative deal to install microchips in a PC maker’s latest gadgets or finding a bulk buyer of portable computers designed for business use.

The show, Computex Taipei, also serves another purpose: To demonstrate the growing depth and sophistication of Taiwan's high-tech industry. Taiwanese companies hope to show how far they've moved from the days when "Taiwanese electronics" meant contract manufacturing for overseas brands.

But for many Taiwanese vendors, this years Computex, which ended on June 4, was a disappointment. Their Silicon Valley rival Apple Computer had stolen the show.

Rather than enjoying the glitz and glam, Micro-Star International Vice President Henry Lu sat stoically, his necktie loose, in a private conference room pondering one question: What are we going to do about the iPad?

Just outside, his sales people were showing off the Taiwanese firm’s tiny tablet computers, barely one percent of the company’s overall notebook PC business. But Apple’s hot selling touch-screen tablets, the iPads, were getting most of the attention.

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