Asus eyes Sony’s place in laptop biz

R. Yegya Narayanan Coimbatore | Updated on November 25, 2017

Peter Chang, Regional Head-South Asia and Country Manager, System Business Group, ASUS India Pvt.Ltd, at the opening of ASUS exclusive store, in Coimbatore, on May 17, 2014. Photo K. Ananthan

Plans smartphone launch

The exit of Sony from the laptop business opens the door for Asus India to increase its market reach, Peter Chang, Regional Head-South Asia, Asus, has said.

The company believes that the domestic market for laptops is big enough for it to have a production facility in the country and it is nudging its supplier in China into establishing a manufacturing unit here.

In an interview to Business Line at Coimbatore on Saturday, he said the company hopes to double its market share in laptops to 10 per cent this calendar year by increasing the number of exclusive stores from 100 to 200 stores and by increasing the number of channel partners.

He said in India, HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus and Acer were the top five brands in terms of market share.

Asked what the imminent exit of Sony from laptop manufacture meant for companies like Asus, he said Asus was doing well in the segment and the exit of Sony was a “good opportunity” for Asus so that it could “invest more into this market” to grab their share.

Putting the Indian laptop market size at about 5.5 million units a year which was growing steadily, he said however it was the tablet market that was hot as it was lightweight and easy to carry. The tablet market has witnessed a tremendous growth, growing from 0 to 50 lakh in two years in the country.

(Sony announced early this year its decision to exit from the laptop business globally. (Sony owns the popular brand Vaio). It attributed its exit to the global shift towards mobile devices and the declining PC market. Sony India expects to stop selling Vaio from June-July).

Chang, who is also the Country Manager, System Business Group, Asus India Pvt Ltd, asked about the debate about which was preferable- tablet or laptop, said both were complementary.

He said laptop was more for content creation whereas tablet was more a “consumption device” as it was used to access the internet or mail. He expected both to co-exist since their application or end uses were different.

In India, HP, Dell and Lenovo were ahead of Asus in the laptop segment and it was followed by Acer and his aim was to move up in the market share chain.

He said while the economic slowdown has pinched the devices market like other products, presence in multiple product segments like laptops, tablets, hybrids etc had acted as a cushion for Asus. He said

Asus is now weighing options on introducing its smartphones in India.

The laptop market had been flat but the “device market” has not shrunk and together with tablet and hybrids, the overall device market would register a 15 per cent growth.

Asked why products like laptops are cheaper in the US or have much higher specifications than similar products sold in India in the same price bracket by the same brands, Chang said the tax structure and the channel margins were different in the two countries.

The products were the same except for minor differences in the two nations but if the duty structure was favourable, the industry could offer products at a cheaper price here. For instance, laptops attracted an import duty of around 10 per cent in India whereas in Europe IT products were levied zero duty, he said.

Chang, replying to a question on establishing a manufacturing facility in India, said the company was discussing with its supplier in mainland China (Asus is a Taiwanese company) to set up a production unit in India.

He said the Indian devices market was “big enough” to achieve economy of scale for a manufacturer but what was needed was a favourable business environment.

Asus launched its 100th exclusive store in India, and the second in Coimbatore, on Saturday to market its entire range of touch notebooks, ultrabooks, tablets etc.

Published on May 18, 2014

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