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Why Asus launched a Rs 62,999 smartphone in India

Asus, the Taiwanese tech giant that until past few months was limiting its smartphones to lower and mid-range segments, took everyone by surprise when it launched handsets priced at Rs 50,000 and above. The company introduced its costliest smartphone in India namely the Zenfone 3 Deluxe (Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor variant) priced at Rs 62,999, which is Rs 3,000 more than the recently-launched high-end phablet Samsung Galaxy Note 7. It also launched the Zenfone 3 Ultra and the Zenfone 3 Deluxe (Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor variant) at Rs 49,999 each.
With that kind of hefty price tag for smartphones, the company is bound to be questioned by many as to why they should burn their fingers on such Android smartphone when they can purchase a handset from a different brand with similar specifications in nearly half the price. However, Asus has an answer for them.
In a recent interview with the Asus India chief Peter Chang, TOI learned that Asus this year is going to step up its game in the smartphone market by launching high-priced devices for a different audience. When asked about the high price tag of smartphones, Chang said that Asus wants to cater to a range of audience and not just stay limited to a particular segment.
He adds that the smartphone market is fragmented in different price segments and different kind of users. So the company is trying to prove that not only can it make a mark in the mid-and low-end smartphone segment but can also offer handsets for a different range of users, specifically for those who understand the value of the product in that price tag.
Chang for instance, says that those who don’t know about Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 , have no reason to buy the particular variant of the Zenfone 3 Deluxe. They can instead go for a different version. Similarly, heavy users would require a handset with 256GB of inbuilt storage, not a regular user. Also, it’s not just about the processor and storage, but other factors too come into play such as the screen size, RAM, and more.
Asus plans to widen its product portfolio and offer more smartphones in different price brackets. However, this doesn’t mean that Asus would be completely killing its existing range of devices. Chang adds that Asus still has smartphones such as the Zenfone Max, Zenfone 2 and others for the budget-friendly segment.
The plans to expand its portfolio to different segments makes sense given the fact that the budget smartphone market is already oversaturated by devices from Xiaomi, Lenovo, Coolpad, and others.
With the new Zenfone 3 smartphone series, Asus, however, might have to go an extra mile to bring more customers towards the mid-and-premium segment. The company’s plan to increase the number of offline retail stores in India could help them tackle this issue to some extent. It would let potential customers test and experience the products in real before buying them, something not possible while purchasing online. The upcoming festive season might also bring some sales for the company.
However, looking at such attempts by other companies in the past, the idea for now looks more of a risk than a sure-shot win. It would be interesting to see how Asus plans to generate sales for its Zenfone 3 Ultra and Zenfone 3 Deluxe handsets in future.
The company at the launch event claimed that it sold around 4 million Zenfone devices since August 2014 to July 2016 in India. The Zenfone 2 series alone managed to touch 80,000 single-day sales in the country.

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