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Desktops Alive and Kicking
The desktop computer market is still one of the most promising in China's information technology sector and worthy of continuous investment, despite a slow down in the growth of sales, some industry leaders said.

"It is not true that the PC market is beginning to go down. Just look at the potential in the education sector," said Huang Gang, general manager of the personal computer section at Langchao Electronic Information Industry Co Ltd, the biggest domestic computer server vendor in the country.

"There are more than 700,000 primary and middle schools in China; if every school just spent 500,000 yuan (US$60,000) on computers, that will be 35 billion yuan (US$4 billion)," Huang added.

His company will spend 1.2 billion yuan (US$145 million) in three years to help popularize computers in schools, he said.

The money will be used to ease the shortage of funds in many schools. Langchao will give schools computers first and the schools can pay the company back three or four years later when they raise enough funds from charges for computer lessons to their students.

Langchao will also spend 8 million yuan (US$960,000) to build 10 model classrooms in 10 cities to train distributors and teachers from potential schools.

"We hope to squeeze into the top three domestic players with our progress in the education sector," Huang said.

The Taiwan-based computer giant Acer also launched its second generation Aspire products earlier his month, which can also be used as TV sets and programme recorders, as well as computers.

In 1993, Acer sold 20,000 computers in the Chinese mainland, while the current biggest domestic computer maker Legend only shipped 25,000 units. But Acer's market share last year was only about one 10th of Legend - a little more than 3 percent.

The Taiwan IT giant will spend 30 million yuan (US$3.6 million) in the Chinese mainland market to promote sales of desktop computers this year, after already spending 10 million yuan (US$1.2 million) in research for the new Aspire series.

"The annual sales of family use computers in the mainland is about 3 million units, and I hope we will be able to get half of the market in two years," said Scott Lin, chief operating officer for Acer's business in China.

(China Daily June 17, 2002)

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