INTERVIEW: From “Nobody Knows You Sell Laptops” to 3rd Largest Laptop Manufacturer in India – The Story of Asus India

  • Asus has a long history of manufacturing laptops and caters to a wide range of users, from students to professionals, gamers and developers.
  • Asus also has several innovative ultrabooks in its lineup, including dual-display analog watch faces and space-grade durability.
  • With the post-Covid boom in laptop demand now normalizing, we’ve caught up Arnold So to understand the way ahead for Asus and the laptop makers in India.

Asus is a well-known name in the world of computers. This three-decade-old Taiwanese company has stepped up the plate by offering ultrabooks and notebooks for a diverse audience – from gamers to professionals who take laptops everywhere.

Some of Asus’ recent additions to the laptop segment include innovative things like a watch face designed for creative users, a dual-screen laptop for multitaskers, to basic but important things like high-resolution OLED displays and ultra-lightweight notebooks.

“When I came to India 10 years ago, my distributors and dealers asked me to put a laptop image on the Asus logo and I asked them why they said that. They said no one knew ASUS sold laptops,” quipped Arnold Su, general manager, consumer and gaming PC. ASUS Indiain an interview with Business Insider India.

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To the surge in demand caused by the Covid pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way people live in a number of ways – from a general increase in hygiene awareness to a different way of working. Overall lifestyle has changed drastically.

Working from home has also forced businesses and employees to upgrade their IT infrastructure, both in the cloud and at home. This led to unprecedented demand for laptops.

According to data from IDC, the laptop segment in India experienced massive expansion in 2021 as WFH continued and students had to study remotely. Total shipments in 2021 were just under 15 million, up from 10 million in 2020.

Asus also benefited greatly. Total shipments in 2021 were just under a million – up from 0.6 million in the Covid year. According to Su, demand for new laptops was split across segments – gamers, students and professionals alike.

From gamers to developers and professionals – there is something for everyone

Asus ultrabooks cater to a wide spectrum – from gamers to developers and anyone looking for a slim, powerful laptop.

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

For gamers, Asus has the ROG lineup with powerful processors and graphics cards, as well as displays with high refresh rates.

For those who want slim and light laptops, Asus has the ExpertBook, Vivobook, and Zenbook ranges in different price ranges.

Su pointed out that Asus has seen a drastic increase in the gaming laptop segment, which had a volume of around 40,000 units in 2016. Six years later, that number rose to 3-4,00,000 units. Su says Asus sells 3 out of 10 gaming laptops sold in India – thanks to the company’s ROG offerings.

On the quirky but premium Space laptop

Asus has a knack for releasing quirky laptops every now and then. It launched a laptop with a watch face called the ProArt StudioBook, and then there was the ZenBook Pro Duo with dual displays so you can easily multitask. This, Su says, allows different people to have their needs met, even if the needs are sometimes very niche.

Asus ZenBook 14X Space EditionSurabh Jain

Recently, Asus launched the ZenBook 14X Space Edition, which has a secondary display on the back that can be customized for different things. According to Su, this is a celebration of the 25th anniversary of Asus sending the first laptop into space, the P6300 and P6100.

“The Covid party is over for laptop makers”

While Indians have bought millions of new laptops in 2020 and 2021, Su has a reality check and says “the Covid party is over for laptop makers”.

“We are already seeing a recession in PC demand in many countries, particularly in Europe. In the last two years of 2020 and 2021, we’ve seen very tremendous year-over-year growth — between 40% and 60% — that’s now down to near single digits,” Su said, explaining that he’s waiting for figures from IDC.

However, he was in a positive mood and the Indian market was still largely untouched by laptop manufacturers, with around 90% of Indian households not having a PC.

How to deal with the shortage of semiconductors

Su stressed that semiconductor shortages have left Asus — and other laptop makers — unable to meet full demand in 2020 and 2021. But with demand now normalizing, Su says Asus is now able to manage supplies.

“To be honest, we don’t see a supply chain issue at this point because we are ready to ramp up our production capacity to the level that we are able to meet current demands,” he told Business Insider.

He added that Asus has started 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, traditional PC makers like Asus may feel threatened.

However, Su welcomed the competition, stressing 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 that, we’ll just get caught in the price-cutting race. According to the customer, Asus is not considered [for its quality, but will only consider the price]’ Su explained, stating that Asus will continue to explore its product strategy.


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