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HP to double Taiwan headcount

PC maker to "increase local hires and expand Taiwan operations," bringing development center employees to 600 by end of 2009.

Hewlett-Packard, the world's top PC maker, on Wednesday said it will double the number of its employees in Taiwan by 2009, part of a strategy to move more product development to the world's top PC-manufacturing hub.

HP said it expects to have about 600 people at its product development center in Taiwan by the end of 2009, compared with about 300 at present.

"Part of our strategy is to increase local hires and expand Taiwan operations," Ted Clark, senior vice president and general manager of HP's mobile-computing and global-business unit, told reporters at an event in Taipei.

HP currently has four design centerr--in Taiwan, China, Germany and the United States--for its notebook business.

Taiwan is the center of the world's PC making industry, with contract manufacturers such as Quanta Computer, and Compal Electronics supplying up to 80 percent of all laptops. Major component makers such as Hon Hai are also based on the island.

Taiwan is also increasingly home to a number of companies trying to build global PC brands, most notably Acer, which would become the world's No. 3 player, with its pending purchase of Gateway, and up-and-comer Asustek.

"For notebooks, the center of the universe is Taiwan, from an R&D standpoint," said Tom Mitchell, vice president and general manager of the consumer notebook business unit.

HP, whose Taiwanese suppliers include Quanta and Hon Hai, currently develops over 100 products in Taiwan for the worldwide market, including more than 50 notebook platforms, Clark said.

He added that about half of the company's commercial notebook PCs are now developed in Taiwan.

Global notebook PC shipments are expected to rise 28 percent to 106 million units this year, well outpacing 19 percent growth forecast for all personal computers, Clark said, citing IDC data.

HP, the world's top PC maker, with about 19 percent global share, aims to grow faster than the broader market for its notebook division, Clark said. The company's global share for notebook PCs now stands at 21 percent.

HP on Tuesday said it saw good demand for its PCs in the current quarter and that it is making progress in reducing its 85 data centers to six in order to cut costs.

The company has eliminated 15 to 20 data centers so far, while it is spending money to build the six new centers.

Shares of HP rose 2.1 percent to $50.17 in New York overnight.