NEW DELHI: In a market dominated by Chinese phonemakers, AsusTek Computer Inc, popularly known as Asus, has managed to hold its own with design innovation like the rotating camera in the newly launched Asus 6Z. PCs and gaming laptops continue to be the company’s core focus areas.
In an interview, Jonney Shih, Chairman of AsusTek Computer Inc, who was in New Delhi for the launch of Asus 6Z, spoke about the recent high court ban on the use of the Zen brand name by Asus in India; why foldable phones are inevitable; and his strategy for the Indian smartphone market. Edited excerpts:
Asus has a comprehensive smartphone portfolio but has struggled to break into the top five in India market.
We have to embrace the reality. I think starting from 2018, We worked with the Flipkart, and set an online first strategy. I think we have done a pretty good job in the first quarter this year. We have reached the number 4 position in online market with 8% market share in Q 2019, according to Counterpoint Research. We had a successful TV advertising program. We also listen carefully to what Indian consumers want and have internalised them in our design. India is always a high priority market for us.
Custom UIs are immensely popular with mainstream users. Why is Asus moving away from its custom UI to stock Android?
I think the most important thing from the users point of view, is how to make the interface fast and smooth. Google has a very good design and concept. However, many companies have got their own design, and that often leads to a bit of contradiction and bloatware.
This time we have made a lot of fundamental framework optimization to get the right balance between stock Android and customisation.
Foldable phones have generated a lot of buzz but the fizz is dying since phone companies have not been able to deliver the goods on time. Have phone companies been too hasty in launching foldable phones?
Foldable screens are inevitable. I think it’s just a timing issue. Right timing is very important. Cost is another parameter as it increases the cost. You have a lot of different kind of parameters. You have to keep it very thin and beautiful and also ensure it doesn’t use up too much battery. In the end the engineers have to make sure it’s technically feasible.
There is a court case involving the use of Zen brand name by Asus in India. How will this affect the existing and upcoming line-up of phones?
Our legal team is already working with the High Court to resolve this issue. In terms of the current business, still would like to make sure our customers the experience stays unchanged. For our new products here we went directly to the name Asus 6Z, because Asus in itself is a popular tech brand in India.
Asus has launched several gaming devices in India including the ROG Phone. How important is the gaming portfolio in India?
So you can see we actually are very consistent in terms of the whole Asus strategy, because we started from motherboard and graphics cards for gamers. We are trying to drive with the same strategy and focus on power users and gamers. With ROG Phone we did a very good job and will continue to surprise users with ROG Phone 2.
We are seeing lots of new innovation in laptops, like dual screens. What are your expectations from it?
PC is the primary productivity computing device. But there is a lot to innovate in PC as the machine is still very dumb. Productivity computing has to help with the productivity. This is why we have got screenpad which will work very much like a smartphone’s screen and will allow users to do multi-task.
AMD has launched new Ryzen processors. Will we see more Ryzen products in cost conscious markets like India?
Frankly speaking, Ryzen chipsets are getting a lot of attention. We are watching them closely, and will judge whose products to use based on what kind of segment we are catering to. It is very difficult to choose any one camp.