INTERVIEW: From ‘nobody knows you sell laptops’ to the third largest laptop maker in India — the Asus India story
Asushas a long history of making laptops, catering to a wide range of users, right from students to professionals, gamers and creators.
- Asus also has several innovative ultrabooks in its lineup, with analogue dials to dual displays and space-grade durability, among other things.
- With the post-Covid boom in laptop demand now normalizing, we caught up with
Arnold Suto understand the way forward for Asus and the laptop makers in India.
AdvertisementAsus is a well-known name in the world of computers. This three-decade old Taiwanese company has been stepping up the plate with its range of ultrabooks and notebooks for a diverse audience – gamers to professionals who carry laptops everywhere.
Some of Asus’ recent additions in the laptop segment include innovative things like a dial designed for the creative users to a dual-screen laptop for multitaskers, to basic yet important stuff like high resolution OLED displays, and ultralight notebooks.
“10 years back when I came to India, my channel partners, and my dealers asked me to paste a laptop image on the Asus logo and I asked them why they said so. They said nobody knows that ASUS sells laptops,” quipped Arnold Su, business head, consumer and gaming PC,
On the demand boost due to the Covid pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic changed the way people live in more ways than one – from being generally more aware about hygiene to changing the way they work. Lifestyles overall have undergone a drastic change.
Work from home also forced companies as well as employees to upgrade their IT infrastructure, both in the cloud as well as in the homes. This created an unprecedented demand for laptops.
According to data from IDC, the laptop segment in India underwent a massive expansion in 2021 as WFH continued and students had to study remotely. The overall shipments in 2021 stood at a little under 15 million, up from 10 million in 2020.
Asus too benefited a great deal. Its total shipments in 2021 were a little under a million — which grew from 0.6 million in the year of Covid. Su says that the demand for new laptops was spread across segments – gamers, students and professionals alike.
From gamers to creators and professionals – there’s something for everyone
Asus’ lineup of ultrabooks cater to a wide range – from gamers to creators and those who want a slim, powerful laptop.
For instance, Asus Dial and its dual screen laptops are examples of laptops geared towards creators.
For gamers, Asus has the ROG lineup with powerful processors and graphics cards, in addition to high refresh rate displays.
For those who want sleek and lightweight laptops, Asus has the ExpertBook, Vivobook and Zenbook lineup across different price points.
Su pointed out that Asus has seen a drastic increase in the gaming laptop segment, which used to have a volume of around 40,000 units in 2016. Fast forward six years, this number surged to 3-4,00,000 units. Su says that Asus sells 3 out of every 10 gaming laptops sold in India – thanks to the company’s ROG offerings.
On the quirky-but-premium Space laptop
Asus has a knack of launching quirky laptops every now and then. It launched a laptop with a dial, called the ProArt StudioBook, and then there was the ZenBook Pro Duo with two displays, so you can multitask with ease. This, Su says, allows different people to meet their needs, even though sometimes the needs may be very niche.
More recently, Asus launched the ZenBook 14X Space Edition, featuring a secondary display on the back that can be customized for different things. This, Su says, is a celebration of 25 years of Asus sending the first laptop to space, the P6300 and P6100.
‘The Covid party is over for laptop makers’
While Indians bought millions of new laptops in 2020 and 2021, Su has a reality check, saying that “the Covid party is over for laptop makers”.
Advertisement“We have already started seeing a recession in PC demand in lots of countries, especially in Europe. In the past two years 2020 and 2021 we saw a very huge year-over-year growth – between 40-60% – that has now fallen to almost single digits,” Su said, stating that he is awaiting numbers from IDC.
However, he maintained that he is positive and that the Indian market is still largely untouched by laptop companies, with around 90% of the Indian households not having a PC.
On dealing with the semiconductor shortage
Su underlined that the semiconductor shortage resulted in Asus – and other laptop makers – being unable to meet the full demand in 2020 and 2021. But with the demand now normalising, Su says that Asus is now able to manage the supplies.
“At this stage, to be honest, we don't see the supply chain issue because we are ready to increase our production capacity to the level that we are able to meet the current requirements,” he told Business Insider.
AdvertisementHe also added that Asus has kickstarted its work on the ‘Make in India’ project to avoid future supply chain challenges.
On the competition from Chinese companies
With smartphone makers like Xiaomi and Realme now offering laptops, the traditional PC makers like Asus could feel threatened.
However, Su welcomed the competition while underlining that Asus will stick to establishing itself as a brand known for quality – akin to Dyson, but not necessarily as expensive.
“If we don't do this, then we will just fall into the price-cutting race. To the customer's mind they will not consider Asus [for its quality, but will only consider the price],” explained Su, while stating that Asus will continue to study their product strategy.
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