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Company News | The Enterprise 50 Awards 2004

The Straits Times Monday November 8, 2004

WITH the semiconductor industry here suffering a downturn,one would assume that a company involved in semiconductor design would be undergoing tough times.

However, Mr. James Jeong, chief executive officer and president of ComSOC Technology, takes it in his stride. "The market situation may be bad, especially in the electronics market, but you have to prepare what to do next."

ComSOC is still doing its traditional business, which is customised semiconductors, but it has been preparing itself by diversifying.

"We're doing system development," revealed Mr. Jeong. "Previously we just developed integrated circuits and semiconductors, or part of the whole system. Since we are involved in a key component of the system, we decided, why not develop the complete set, up to the finished product?"

That explains the plasma TV in the meeting room, which remains on throughout the interview. Closer inspection of the set shows that it bears the ComSOC logo.

This is the result of more than two years of investment, which started in January 2002, when Mr. Jeong attended an exhibition where a company was presenting plasma TVs as a concept to be developed. "Plasma had just launched, and the quality was so bad," he recalled. Still, he recognized it as "a good opportunity".

Acknowledging the trend towards more compact housing, Mr. Jeong said: "Residents not only need less bulky TVs, they also demand crystal-clear displays, and lower prices, to put the sets within reach of the man in the street. If we can make a better-quality, cheaper, simpler product, we can succeed."

So ComSOC started recruiting the necessary man power, and working out its business plans. "We must work with a glass panel supplier, and the glass panel is our major cost. We develop the control board behind for a few hundred dollars." If a customer needs to produce the set themselves, ComSOC just sells them the control board. If a customer needs the complete set, he said, his company would "ship it".

Thus far, ComSOC has developed two models ----- a high density display and standard display ----- which offer a home theatre experience without the need for a hi-fi audio system. "I believe we are the only Singapore company to make display products," noted Mr. Jeong with satisfaction. "There's Philips, but they're an MNC."

With its track history in development, ComSOC prefers to focus more on development, and sales and marketing for the end product. "We're not taking on the full process of manufacturing. We'll do third-party outsourcing, which is more effective and cost-saving."

Its total investment so far, including engineering, manpower, marketing, traveling and sourcing, said Mr. Jeong, is "easily more than $2 million". He conceded that the two-to three-year investment has not been a short period for a small company, and that it had dragged ComSOC's net profits down from the $2.2 million it enjoyed in 2002. "But we don't mind, because we will recover by next year."

His confidence is based partly on his belief that the cost of glass panels will fall in 2005, when plasma TVs could retail for less than US$2,000(US$3,311) each.

By year end, ComSOC intends to launch its own brand brand, IVAM, short for intelligent Video Audio Master. He expects to have "more and more products in the future", after the company has tested the waters with this first offering.

"Watch ComSOC," said Mr. Jeong. "We are growing, and we offer good quality, We may not have a high ranking in E50, but we'll get there soon." ----- Susan Tsang, a freelance writer

 

2008 ComSOC Technology Pte Ltd

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