There was a time when the BenQ brand could be seen on laptops and mobile phones, but nowadays you'd have to turn your eyes to projectors, LCD monitors and cameras (in select markets) in order to spot it. If you're in China, you might have even come across the gigantic BenQ Medical Center in Nanjing. That's right, a hospital; and later this year BenQ will be opening another one in Suzhou, which is where the company's Chinese operation is based. Interesting times, right? But as to whether BenQ has any intention to re-enter the two mobile markets in the near future, the answer is a firm "no."
In our recent visit to BenQ's Taipei headquarter, marketing vice president Adrian Chang told us that the fast-changing pace of mobile phones and laptops doesn't fit his company's long-term development and strength. In fact, even its most recent Android tablet, the R100, came out back in February last year, which goes to show BenQ's dwindling interest in the mobile space. Judging by the current portfolio, it looks like optics and materials are what BenQ's core consumer businesses are based on these days: it's still one of the top projector and monitor brands (it should also be noted that famed display panel supplier AUO is part of BenQ Group), and the company wouldn't stop talking about its very own "Bright Lens" optics on its new flagship 14-megapixel G1, the world's slimmest F1.8 swivel screen camera (a new model with built-in WiFi coming next). Thankfully, not everything from the good old days has gone to waste, as Chang insisted that some of the mobile computing R&D resources have been allocated to other parts of BenQ. "Invention continues, just in different form factors," he said.
Indeed. Under the QisDesign brand since 2009, BenQ's been offering something totally different from its usual product lines: luxury lamps. With ODM arm Qisda taking care of the manufacturing plus AUO subsidiary Lextar supplying the LED solutions, these guys come up with some rather good-looking but crazy expensive lighting products. For instance, at BenQ's show room we saw the foldable BE Light series pictured above: the floor lamp on the right debuted at the Maison et Objet show in Paris earlier this month and is priced at €835 (about $1,100), while the award-winning table lamp on the left goes for $500. We also saw the Coral Reef lamps (pictured earlier; also award winners) which cost $980 and $2,300 for the table and floor versions, respectively. Others include the cute and relatively affordable Flamenca desk lamp ($130), the cunning Piano series ($630 and $1,790) and the elegant Seagull series ($720 and $1,650). It's no wonder BenQ would rather sell lamps than phones or laptops.