Asustek Computer Inc (華碩電腦), the world’s No. 5 PC brand, yesterday launched a new high-end smartphone with a docking station that transforms the phone into a tablet, in a new effort to diversify into the booming smartphone market.
The launch came six months after the PC firm unveiled the first model in its Padfone series in April, duplicating the concept of blurring the line between different mobile devices as it did with its popular Transfomer tablet, which doubles as a notebook computer.
“We think this will be a niche market and will give a boost to sales,” Asustek executive financial officer David Chang (張偉明) said by telephone.
Sales of the new Padfone 2 are expected to be better than that of its predecessor, as processor shortages have hindered sales of the Padfone 1, Chang said.
He did not provide sales figures or any sales target.
“What we are doing now is strengthening our brand awareness [outside our home market],” Chang said. “This is a very competitive market. Samsung Electronics Co, Apple Inc and HTC Corp (宏達電) are well-known brands. We are not there yet.”
The phone is outfitted with a high-resolution touch screen from Sharp Corp like the screen on Apple’s iPhone 5, but, at 4.7 inches, it is bigger than the iPhone 5’s 4-inch screen.
Asustek chairman Johnny Shih (施崇棠) introduced the phone at a launch in Milan, Italy.
The new smartphone, running Google Inc’s Android operating system, will first become available in Taiwan and Europe, skipping the US market, which is dominated by Apple’s iPhone.
In Taiwan, Asustek is offering the smartphone together with a service package from the nation’s top telecommunications operator, Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信). Subscribers will receive a free Padfone 2 when singing up for a service package with a minimum monthly fee of NT$1,749.
In related news, HTC yesterday began selling an upgraded version of its One X smartphone series in Taipei, after the model was launched on Oct. 2. The new version, the HTC One X+, is equipped with a quad-core processor that can process faster than its predecessor, the HTC One X, and has 27 percent more storage space.
Shares of Asustek and HTC rose 1.18 percent and 0.2 percent to NT$300 and NT$250.5 respectively yesterday. The TAIEX gained 0.7 percent.