A diamond may be forever, but a little electronic wizardry can help out in the short term. Perhaps that explains why, while diamonds still account for about 85 per cent of Israel's US$766 million-a-year exports to Hong Kong (most of them polished and cut in Israel, but ready for mounting and setting here), hi-tech telecommunication equipment, printing machinery and other innovative Israeli products are taking a bigger share each year. Whether it is telephone gateways produced by Israel's ECI, area networking systems designed by RAD, computer design inspection technology supplied by Orbotech, or hi-tech printing systems from Scitex, Hong Kong appreciates it all. The territory's imports of Israeli telecommunications equipment alone rose from US$8 million in 1994 to $16 million in 1995 and $20 million last year. Comverse Asia-Pacific managing director Shai Schiller said the size of the Hong Kong market for his company's products was because of the way it enhanced telephone companies' profits by providing a service most telephone users wanted. Founded in America by Israelis, Comverse designs and produces the Trilogue Infinity platform through its Israeli subsidiary Efrat. Trilogue allows Hong Kong Telecom, among many others, to provide its phonemail and family mailbox services. Comverse has also won contracts with five out of six of the new PCS licence holders in Hong Kong. What it offers is the guarantee to telecoms operators that no calls need go unanswered, messages are left, users dial up to receive their messages and answer back. That all adds up to extra usage and revenue. 'In some mobile networks, 20 to 30 per cent of chargeable airtime is message related,' Mr Schiller said. 'So telecoms companies get fast return on their investments.' The company has products from basic answering services to platforms which will eventually allow subscribers to direct voice to phonemail, fax, email or even internet video messages. It is also marketing a device that will allow users to press a button and automatically call back the person who left the original message. 'Most US companies concentrate on the domestic market first. Being a company from a small country, we started worldwide,' he said.