Mon, Apr 11, 2016 - Page 13 News List

Asustek counting on ZenFone 3 boost

SMARTPHONE ZONE:The company said it would start mass production of its latest phone in July and has set a goal of a 25 percent increase in sales over last year’s results

By Lauly Li  /  Staff reporter

Asustek Computer Inc (華碩) hopes the launch of its next-generation smartphone — the ZenFone 3 — in June will help boost growth momentum in the second half of this year, a company official said on Friday.

“We expect to introduce the new flagship smartphone at the end of June and start mass production in July,” Asustek chief financial officer Nick Wu (吳長榮) said in a telephone interview.

Together with the launches of other handsets in the second half of the year, the company aims to sell 25 million smartphones this year, an increase of 25 percent from last year’s 20 million units.

The company in February cut its annual shipment target for smartphones from 30 million units to 25 million units.

The smartphone business for the first half of the year is likely to remain flattish or increase slightly from the 8 million units sold over the same period last year, as the product cycle of the ZenFone 2 series gradually dissipates, the company said.

Analysts said the company would need to ship 17 million units between July and December to reach its annual target.

However, as the Zenfone series becomes more complete, it will serve as a stronger growth driver for Asustek, they said.

The company’s goal of a 25 percent annual increase in smartphone shipments is higher than the global average of 7 percent forecast by international research house Gartner Inc on March 31.

It also underlines chief executive officer Jerry Shen’s (沈振來) efforts to improve the firm’s smartphone marketing strategies.

Shen in February said that Asustek aims to focus on fast-growing emerging markets this year such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines and India.

The firm also plans to introduce a limited number of higher-margin smartphones in the regions in a bid to have a deeper and closer relationship with consumers there, he said.

Shen said the company hopes to see its market share in Indonesia increase to 18 percent this year from 15 percent last year and from 2 percent to 5 percent in India.

Compared with the company’s aggressiveness in the smartphone business, Asustek is conservative about the outlook of its tablet segment, after seeing an annual decline of 37.23 percent in shipments last year amid softening demand.

In the first quarter of this year, the company only shipped 1 million tablets, down 33.33 percent from 1.5 million units a year ago, Wu said.

Wu said the company also plans to introduce new tablets in June and will continue improving its operation efficiency in the tablet segment in a bid to increase tablet shipments in the second half.

However, the persistent weak demand for tablets worldwide will weigh on Asustek’s tablet shipments this year, which are likely to remain flat from last year’s 5.9 million units, Wu said.

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