It is undeniable that Asia is the tech hub of the world. Just look around an electronics store. Four out of five times, you’d probably bump into a Samsung or Sony or Huawei product. And a majority of them are manufactured either in China, Japan, Korea, and yes, even Taiwan.
For such a small island nation, smaller than the biggest island in the Philippines, Taiwan has managed to secure a global spot in the electronics industry. And their homegrown brand ASUS is their bet in going head-to-head with other big league brands.
ASUSTeK Computer Inc. was founded in Taipei in 1989 by four hardware engineers who used to work for another tech company in Taiwan. They started manufacturing motherboards used by many computer brands. This paved the way for ASUS to gain international recognition as “the number one manufacturer of motherboards in the world.” The company now holds 40% market share in the production of motherboards. According to their website, “Over 500 million motherboards have been sold since 1989” and “one in every three computers houses an ASUS motherboard.”
Emergence of the Taiwanese tech empire
Building on their motherboard success, ASUS ventured out into making their own tech consumer products. This included PCs, laptops, mobile phones, tablets, and every gadget you might possibly find in a tech store. The results didn’t disappoint either.
In a 2016 Report from Gartner, ASUS ranked fourth in the Preliminary Worldwide PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for Q1 of 2016. The company holds 7% to 8% of the global market share in PC units with shipments running a little above 5 million units. Lenovo, HP, and Dell lead the pack, but ASUS is well above Apple. In the US, ASUS captured 5.1% of the market making it the fifth most popular PC brand.
With such international acclaim, Asus was hailed by Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs as the top Taiwanese Global Brand for three straight years now. It was tagged with a brand value amounting to USD1.78 billion. In addition to this, ASUS recently disclosed their consolidated revenues, which totaled to USD3.38 billion, an increase of 7.7%, for the first quarter of 2016. Based on the company report, 66% of these revenues came from their PC sales, while 17% came from their line of smartphones and tablets. The remaining percentage was shared by gaming components and other accessories.
At the forefront of innovation
With a growing appeal for ASUS products, participation in the Taiwan-hosted Computex 2016 has become a fanfare. Held from 31 May to 4 June, the event attracted close to 41,000 professionals in the IT industry and was visited by more than 170 countries. ASUS was one of more than 1,500 exhibitors that showcased the latest innovations and inventions in the tech world.
With much anticipation from the crowds that filled the expo, ASUS launched their Zenvolution lineup of products that stirred a lot of excitement. The latest gadgets featured were considered to be worthy contenders against the big brands that dominate the tech world. The ASUS Zenbook and Zenfone for example, are direct aims against Apple’s MacBook and iPhone. The ASUS Transformer tablets on the other hand, is their take of Microsoft’s Surface series.
But the real star of the Zenvolution show was none other than Zenbo, the “smart little companion” as ASUS CEO Jonney Shih puts it. This is the first time ASUS released a robot assistant alongside Japan’s Pepper from Softbank, and Jibo, which just started up in the US. With less-than-a-smartphone price of US$599, Zenbo can answer calls, send messages, recite recipes, read aloud stories, and so much more.
In an 11-minute video feature, Zenbo is seen doing different tasks. It assisted in locking doors and switching other home devices on and off; it alerted family members when the grandfather got into a kerfuffle (in search for his scarf); it made orders online, snapped photos and to the amazement of some house guests, adjusted the room temp and turned off the TV without anyone lifting a finger.
In PCWorld’s interview with Shih, he mentioned that a lot of devices are still passive at an age where the Internet of Things (IoT) is emerging. He was quoted saying, “I think there should be an animal evolving … that can move and be more proactive computing.” This mindset pushed ASUS to create a robot that has basically become the curator of IoT home devices. With smart homes changing the landscape of technology, Zenbo is at a prime position to break open the home robotics market.
According to a ABI Research forecast “the market for home care robotics systems will more than quadruple beginning in 2015, reaching US$5.9 billion in 2025.” It further adds that “consumer robotics shipments are expected to increase fivefold in the same timeframe.”
This bold prediction puts Zenbo at the forefront of innovation especially at a time when smart home devices are making big debuts around the world. Products like Lifx and Nest are already gaining a lot of popularity. With the introduction of Zenbo, it will serve as the main communicator to these smart home devices.
But the likes of Zenbo and other ASUS products comes as no surprise to tech fans. The company seems to know what the people want and with 16 awards under its belt, it is likely to continue its innovations. True to its origin’s name ‘pegasus’, ASUS is flying upward to greater heights.