ASUS Set To Move Into SmartPhone Market, Brand Perception A Big Problem
She refuses to say whether ASUS Australia is profitable but she does admit that “Times are tough” and that the Company is banking on several new products to lift ASUS share in the Australian market.
Last month at Computex ASUS laid on a big show and tell show with hundreds of global media packing in to witness the unveiling of several new notebooks, tablet and a new range of smartphones which Chang claims will go on sale in Australia shortly.
The new products are impressive including their 8″ tablet that has a cover with a built in additional battery capability and the slick looking “Selfi” smartphone.
In Australia ASUS has been on a roller coaster ride, the first Company to deliver the PadFone to a rapturous audience at Computex 2011 the Company has tried very hard to be an innovator in the PC industry.
At this year’s event ASUS chairman Jonney Shih announced the TAICHI and Transformer Book which are dual-purpose ultraportable notebooks.
The ASUS TAICH is an Ultrabook with a double-sided multi-touch display that allows it to switch between a tablet and notebook by simply by lifting its lid.
The Transformer Book is a convertible Ultrabook that is both a notebook with hard drive and storage and a multi-touch SSD tablet, hat has a backlit keyboard dock.
Chang, who believes that she can lift ASUS sales this year and successfully launch their new Selfi smartphone is facing a tough battle as new research from both Gartner and IDC reveal that the PC market is down over 10% this year.
There is also no confidence that the launch of Windows 10 later this month will lift sales of new PC’s after Microsoft offered current PC owners a free upgrade, but if consumers buy a new PC they will be charged up to $80 for a Windows 10 license, a move that is set to push up prices of notebooks and all in one PC’s.
Prior to Chang taking on the top job at ASUS the Company was more the Ted and Carmen show, that was until Ted Chen the former CEO and his marketing Director wife Carmen Li were sacked because of one scandal too many.
This husband and wife team spent up big on fashion shows and the sponsorship of events where Carmen Li paraded the ASUS product and herself alongside big brands such as Mercedes and the latest fashions from David Jones.
She also put demands on fashion shows and sponsors for sample clothing which several Companies told ChannelNews had not been returned. On LinkedIn Ted Chen is now listed as “The Owner” of Asus.
Chang who is an experienced CEO worked as Managing Director for ASUS Benelux, and spent several years in ASUS United Kingdom, Hungary and the Nordic countries, in key roles spanning sales, business development and leadership before taking on the top job in Australia.
As PC makers such as Lenovo invest in high profile personalities such as Ashton Kutcher and expensive in-store display merchandising ASUS is looking to retailers and the traditional PC channel where they are still strong to shift large volumes of their products.
Chang said “During the past 15 years the PC market has at times been dominated by different players, Acer is an example, one minute they are up and then one minute down. Now Lenovo is joining the battle in the consumer market”.
Healthy competition is a great thing and what we have now is healthy competition and that is leading to innovation in the industry and from brands such as ASUS, the end user is benefitting from this”.
In the past the industry was very much about hardware. Today it is as much about software and we are now working with both Microsoft and Google to deliver a combination of both software and hardware innovation. The future is about innovation and the delivery of a total solution and taking note of the environment that the device is set to be used in”.
Asus who showed several smartphones at Computex said that they are determined to launch their smartphone products in Australia despite several carriers and some retailers refusing in the past to range smartphone products from the likes of Hewlett Packard with their Palm offering, Toshiba, Acer, Sharp and ASUS.
“Brand is a perceived value, innovation is the core of ASUS we have thousands of research and development engineers and this is what we have to sell”.
Chang had no answer as to why carriers were reluctant to stock PC branded smartphones despite the innovation found in products being developed by PC brands.
Foad Fadaghi Managing Director of research Company Telsyte said when asked why carriers and consumer electronics retailers were reluctant to stock PC branded smartphones he said “Quite simply they don’t sell, consumers are not interested in a PC branded smartphone because they are not seen as trendy”.
“PC makers have no brand clout, the PC market is no longer about features and function, it’s about brand innovation and that takes money and investment”.
He added”PC makers are also being affected by Apple hand downs, Apple looms so large in the market and has so much brand clout and market share that their hand down products which are handed on to others is affecting the smartphone and tablet markets as well as PC brands”.
“ASUS and Acer are not alone in facing this problem. LG and Sony are struggling to get share up against big spending Apple and Samsung, they lack the same level of marketing investment so they suffer at the hands of the brands investing in marketing”.
“Gaining mind share is a very difficult task which is why PC Companies who have traditionally marketed features and functions have suffered”. Foad added.
Chang said “We don’t have the marketing money that Samsung and Apple have. Brand is about perception consumers today are shopping online before they go to a store. Brand is all about perceived value and is very subjective, everyone looks at a brand differently and each vendor delivers different brand values”.
She added “We have our core opinion leaders who drive the ASUS brand which is about quality and performance and we are confident that these opinion leaders add value to our brand”.
When asked who these opinion leaders were Chang did not nominate any individuals or opinion leaders from Australia whose opinions impacted the brand.
Between now and the end of the year ASUS is looking to launch several new products among them is a new Chromebook.
In the past Chromebooks have primarily been about watching Netflix, and playing Spotify. Asus is looking to upend expectations with its new Chromebook Flip, a device that feels more premium than its price lets on – it’s metal – and one that lets you flip its screen around into various modes that make the whole experience feel more unique than your everyday clamshell laptop.
The above-average build quality is set to see the ASUS offering take on similar products from Acer, Toshiba and HP.
With the newest revision to its ZenPad tablet line, Asus is also making a play for customers that are both spec and price conscious.
Not only does the new ZenPad S 8.0 reach and surpass Apple’s latest iPad Mini in multiple categories, but its low price makes it a compelling option claims retailers who have seen the new offering.
The new ASUS tablet consists of an 8-inch tablet running Android 5.1 Lollipop with the same screen resolution (2048 x 1536) of the iPad Mini 3, and its 32GB of internal storage is twice as large as what you pay for in that same iPad Mini.
Asus’ model weighs a mere 317 grams, which is lighter than the iPad Mini’s 331 grams.
Those who use their tablet’s large display as a viewfinder to snap photos will also see little reason to pay more for the Apple experience.
The Asus Z580C-B1’s 5MP/2MP camera combination both matches and surpasses the 5MP/1.2MP pair of cameras several US reviewers claimed recently.