INTERVIEW: From ‘no one knows you sell laptops’ to India’s third largest laptop maker — the Asus India story | Whuff News

  • Asus has a long history of making laptops, meeting the needs of a wide range of users, from students to professionals, gamers and creators.
  • Asus also has some innovative ultrabooks in its lineup, with analog dials to dual displays and space-grade durability, among other things.
  • With the post-Covid laptop demand boom now normalizing, we’re catching up Arnold Su to understand the way forward for Asus and laptop makers in India.

Asus is a well-known name in the computer world. The three-decade-old Taiwanese company has stepped up its game with a range of ultrabooks and notebooks for a diverse audience – gamers to professionals who take their laptops everywhere.

Some of Asus’ latest additions in the laptop segment include innovative things like dials designed for creative users to dual-screen laptops for multitasking, to basic yet essential things like high-resolution OLED displays and ultralight laptops.

“10 years ago when I came to India, my channel partners, and my dealers asked me to paste the laptop image on the Asus logo and I asked them why they said that. They say nobody knows ASUS sells laptops,” quipped Arnold Su, head of business, consumer and gaming PCs. Asus Indiain an interview with Business Insider India.

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Regarding the increase in demand due to the Covid pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic is changing the way people live in more ways than one – from being generally more aware of hygiene to changing the way they work. The lifestyle as a whole has undergone a drastic change.

Working from home also forces companies and employees to upgrade their IT infrastructure, both in the cloud and at home. This created an unprecedented demand for laptops.

According to data from IDC, the laptop segment in India will experience massive growth in 2021 as WFH continues and students are forced to study remotely. Total shipments in 2021 totaled just under 15 million, up from 10 million in 2020.

Asus also benefits a lot. Its total shipments in 2021 are just under one million — which is up from 0.6 million in the year of Covid. Su says that demand for new laptops is spread across segments – gamers, students and professionals.

From gamers to creators and professionals – there’s something for everyone

Asus’ line of ultrabooks caters to all types – from gamers to creators and those who want a thin and powerful laptop.

For example, the Asus Dial and its dual-screen laptops are examples of laptops aimed at creators.

For gamers, Asus has the ROG line with powerful processors and graphics cards, in addition to high refresh rate displays.

For those who want a slim and light laptop, Asus has the ExpertBook, Vivobook and Zenbook lines across different price points.

Su points out that Asus has seen a drastic increase in the gaming laptop segment, which used to have around 40,000 units in 2016. Fast forward six years, this number has jumped 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 offering.

On the unique but premium Space laptop

Asus has a knack for launching unique laptops from time to time. It launched a laptop with a dial, called the ProArt StudioBook, and then there’s the ZenBook Pro Duo with two displays, so you can multitask with ease. This, Su says, allows different people to meet their needs, although sometimes those needs may be very specific.

INTERVIEW: From 'no one knows you sell laptops' to India's third largest laptop maker — the Asus India story
Asus ZenBook 14X Space EditionSourabh Jain

Recently, Asus launched the ZenBook 14X Space Edition, featuring a secondary display on the back that can be customized for different things. This, Su said, is a celebration of 25 years since Asus sent the first laptops into space, the P6300 and P6100.

‘Covid party is over for laptop makers’

Even as Indians buy millions of new laptops in 2020 and 2021, Su has a reality check, saying that the “Covid party is over for laptop makers”.

“We are already starting to see a slowdown in PC demand in many countries, especially in Europe. In the last two years of 2020 and 2021 we saw very large year-on-year growth – between 40-60% – which has now fallen to almost single digits,” Su said, noting that he was waiting for numbers from IDC.

However, he stressed that he is positive and that the Indian market is still untouched by laptop companies, with around 90% of Indian households not having a PC.

In dealing with semiconductor shortages

Su underlined that the shortage of semiconductors caused Asus – and other laptop makers – to be unable to meet full demand in 2020 and 2021. But with demand now returning to normal, Su said that Asus can now manage supply.

“At this stage, to be honest, we don’t see a supply chain issue because we are ready to increase our production capacity to a level where we can meet current needs,” he told Business Insider.

He also added that Asus has started its work on the ‘Make in India’ project to avoid future supply chain challenges.

About competition from Chinese companies

With smartphone makers like Xiaomi and Realme now offering laptops, traditional PC makers like Asus could feel threatened.

However, Su welcomes the competition while underlining that Asus will stick to establishing itself as a brand known for quality – similar to Dyson, but not necessarily as expensive.

“If we don’t do this, then we will fall into a price cutting race. In the minds of customers they will not consider Asus [for its quality, but will only consider the price],” explained Su, stating that Asus will continue to review their product strategy.


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