The laptop category in India is no longer considered stagnant, and buyers have plenty of options with brands like Xiaomi and Realme added to the mix. Most people think of HP, Lenovo and Dell as the mainstays in the sector, but it’s hard to ignore the importance of brands like Asus that continue to raise new levels in the industry by putting innovation first for consumers.
We talk to Arnold Su, Head of Consumer PC, Gaming (ROG), Asus India and Sam Huang, Country Product Manager (India) – PC, ASUS Indiato understand the company’s product line, its ideas behind the products and new innovative plans to make in India.
News18 Tech: How has the PC market evolved in recent years?
Arnold: In the last few years, before COVID, we as a PC brand, we saw a decline in the PC industry. Some say cell phones will take over the PC. But in the last 2 years, people realized that mobile is for content consumption, while you need a PC for creation. Asus has so many products for different customers, and we produce products in the PC market, where you have a screen, a keyboard and a mouse. For example, gaming is a big part of our focus, not only now but a few years ago. There is a need from customers for a gaming laptop to play on the go.
People cannot buy a PC for gaming, and another for work. So, we’ve worked on a machine that can do both. Although I use a powerful PC for light gaming and can still use it for work and carry it easily. We also have dedicated converters that have upgraded graphics cards so customers can work and play on the same machine.
News18 Tech: Many brands face issues during the pandemic, but also see huge demand from the market. Are you facing the same challenge too?
Arnold: Asus is still a growing brand. We are not worried about the supply side, and focus on working with our supply to provide them with the necessary units. We collect feedback from the market, and plan our product strategy based on consumer demand and needs. Two years earlier, demand for laptops was strong, which has now declined. But Asus can easily manage the demand and deliver with products for users.
News18 Tech: India is largely a budget-conscious market, even for laptops. How did you manage to build interest for your fancy machine?
Arnold and Sam: In recent years, Asus has launched premium products, especially with games, such as the G14. This type of machine costs more than one lakh in India. But you will be surprised to know that the model is sold more in India than in China, Europe and even the US
Yes, we can agree that more than 30 to 40 percent of the market in India is still price conscious and prefer entry-level laptops, but Indian buyers also like to try the latest technology, which shows the demand for such products. Apart from gaming, you have the premium ZenBook series, which includes a dual-screen model, an OLED version, and Indian consumers are aware of this technology and they are willing to pay for the product. India is the third largest PC market in the world, but we don’t see the country as just an entry-level laptop market, we can bring different products.
In the last 2 years, the average selling price (ASP) of laptops in India has increased by about 15 percent. In 2022, it has increased from around $450 (Rs 35,500 approx) to $510 (Rs 40,290). Consumers are willing to pay more, if the product has good features, latest technology and more. Another reason for the increase in ASP can also be attributed to the increase in the cost of raw materials used in making laptops.
In 2019, the overall market size of consumer laptops in India was less than 4 million, and last year, it was 6 million, which is good growth for the overall segment. Demand has pushed the market to new heights, and now we see it saturated after the surge.
News18 Tech: In the high price segment, people prefer MacBooks over Windows laptops. How do you manage to get consumers interested in your product?
Arnold and Sam: Apple has released new hardware for its MacBooks, but we’re confident with support from Intel and Nvidia that could provide better performance and some value.
Also, it’s easier to use different software on Windows, which can be a challenge on MacOS. Customers understand this difference, and are willing to spend big on powerful Windows laptops today. We also provide some features that Apple doesn’t have, so that works in our favor. We want to capture some of the MacBooks in this region.
Asus has worked closely with Microsoft to ensure some software is compatible with the dial and even the dual screen version. We have been selling dual screen laptops for over three years now, and we can work on making a better product that has been well received by consumers and the market in general. Having said that, we continue to push ourselves and find better solutions for our dual screen series.
News18 Tech: How can you offer an OLED display on your mainstream laptop, what is the reason behind this move?
Arnold and Sam: For the OLED series, we have different types of products, starting from the price band of Rs 50,000. For panels, we have different solutions, which can offer Full HD or 4K quality.
For users with limited budget can enjoy OLED display quality around Rs 50K, with Intel Core i3 which is good enough for daily users. For creators, who want better graphics and performance, for them we have 1 lakh+ series available in the market. The reason we have OLED in mainstream models is because we want the majority of consumers to experience the technology. Before us, no one offered an OLED model in this price range.
You have to spend more than 80K to buy an OLED based laptop. The idea behind adding OLED panels to our regular laptops is based on the increased use of screens during the pandemic when people work from home. So, instead of people spending Rs 35,000 on a regular laptop, they can now get an OLED screen laptop for around Rs 40,000.
We give users the option to try the best features available, and we believe that even someone who buys a regular laptop wants the quality of an OLED panel on a laptop. So, more than a sacrifice, we try to cater to as many consumers as possible in the mainstream segment.
News18 Tech: Dual screen and dial. This is a unique feature, how did you come up with this idea?
Arnold and Sam: All these features come from the needs that the customer has. For example, most people today are involved in multitasking, which has led to the origin of these dual screen laptops, which can allow you to access mail on the main screen, and open a WhatsApp account on the second display. Plus, you can keep working on the big screen, and maybe capture a movie on the second screen. We don’t just want a laptop to be a machine with a panel.
News18 Tech: Shortage of chipset supply has become an issue, affecting prices in the market. Has the situation changed now?
Arnold: Asus does not face any supply issues in India which helps us grow in the market. Globally, the shortage occurs mainly in 2020, but in 2022 we see it decrease. The chipset market has also stabilized and we see the prices slowly decreasing in the near future.
News18 Tech: Does Asus have plans to set up a local manufacturing unit for laptops in India?
Arnold: Most PC makers do not have manufacturing units. Since 2011, Asus has been separated into two companies, Pega and Asus, where the factories are controlled by Pegatron and Asus is the consumer brand. We are working with manufacturing partners and are also talking to the Indian government to set up a factory in the country. So, soon you might see Asus laptops made in India.
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