Q).What is your strength in motherboard business?
Product availability, price to performance ratio, a strong brand pull and customer marketing are some of the key strengths of ASUS in the motherboard business in India. Over the years, the channel has recognized ASUS as an industry leader in motherboards and have appreciated our products and given us full support. Also, having a wide range of models across form factors as well as specific series targeted at SMBs as well as gamers (Republic of Gamers) gives us the advantage in terms of having the right product for the right usage scenarios. Also, we have a very strong brand recall amongst tech savvy customers and have a very wide portfolio across both Intel and AMD platforms which sets us apart from other vendors. But we also owe a large part ofour success to our channel partners who constantly support and sell our products at the last mile.
Q).What kind of distribution network you are planning?
We’ve appointed two new distributors – Redington for our motherboard business and Ingram Micro for our desktops, all in one PCs, LCD monitors and projectors business. Our existing distributor Rashi Peripherals will also continue to distribute all these products. Along with this, we’ve also appointed new ASPs for service – Digicomp and Digicare. We’re constantly trying to improve our reach and service levels in the country and are working harder to continue to be in the leader in motherboards in terms of innovation and market share.
Q).How big is the motherboard market in India? How Asus is positioned in Indian market?
Industry estimates put the figures close to about 150,000 units a month in which we have a22% market share. In terms of end user acceptability and brand perception, we’re positioned as the leading brand and are known for our quality, innovation and unique features of our motherboards. We’re also the first motherboard brand to have our own gaming range of products – the ASUS Republic of Gamers line which has garnered a cult status over the years. ASUS motherboards have propelled computing forward with pioneering inventions. These include DIGI+ VRM digital power conversion, Dual Intelligent Processors for combined performance boosts and energy savings, and the unique whole-motherboard heat protection offered by the company’s Thermal Armor and Thermal Radar architectures. Additional exclusives such as Core Unlocker, Disk Unlocker and Protect 3.0 further demonstrate the ASUS commitment to harmonizing technical ingenuity and environmental responsibility with care for the people who actually put technology to use in everyday life.
Q).As a growing market, how would you appraise the PC gaming market in India?
PC gaming is a niche segment and is currently in nascent stages in India. ASUS was the first brand to recognize the need for specialized gaming motherboards and graphics cards and started our Republic of Gamers series of products way back in 2006 with the sole purpose of delivering the most innovative hardcore hardware for truly dedicated gamers. Most other manufacturers have followed suit seeing the need to address this market. The segment is important for the industry as a whole as a lot of innovation happens in this segment and the buyers are always on the lookout for newer advanced technologies. Currently dedicated PC gaming market is about 2-3% of the total TAM. However, this market is growing exponentially every year and is definitely a very important market for us.
Q).Now in graphic card segment Asus is a leading player. What is the market response and advantages of Asus graphic cards?
We currently have about 40% market share in the Graphics Card segment. What’s commendable is that we’ve managed this feat despite the slowdown in the market. ASUS Graphics Cards feature many innovations like ASUS GPU Tweak utility which not only allows you to optimize clock speeds, voltage and fan speeds on up to four graphics cards independently or simultaneously, but also select between GPU Tweak’s Standard or Advanced modes depending on your level of experience. The new and exclusive Super Alloy Power technology on ASUS graphics cards uses a special alloy formula which is highly-magnetic, heat-resistant and anti-corrosive. It delivers a more stable and quieter operation compared to the reference design – a welcome bonus sought after by performance seekers. For ultimate cooling, ASUS DirectCU thermal technology developed the ideal heat banishing copper in exclusively designed heat pipes for direct and fast heat dissipation. ASUS SmartDoctor is a group of special tools to help users make the most of their ASUS graphics cards. It monitors the Fan RPM, AGP Power Level, GPU and RAM temperature, and has a slide bar for easy manual overclocking.
Q).How has the advancement been for the Asus range of networking products?
ASUS networking products are picking traction in the market owing to their various technological differentiators. Even our entry level models come with USB port so that customers can use 3G data cards and hard drives can be also be connected on models like RTn13, RTn56U, RTn66u. RTN16u has a dual wan option and can be used by small SMBs. Our routers have easy to use EZ mode to setup and go online in 5 clicks. They also feature download master technology by which you can download your files even when the computer is switched off. All models are ROHs compliant. Another new technology we have incorporated is Radar technology which indentifies computer location and transmits signal only in that direction to optimize power consumption and efficiency. Kaspersky antivirus is also bundled with some models to offer complete solution. ASUS routers are mainly penetrating the market in the mid and high segment where people are look for feature rich products at the right price.
Q).Are you planning any more products for Indian market?
We’ve periodic launches in each of our product lines. We’ve recently launched the M51AC desktop that has a inbuilt UPS that can also be used as a portable battery pack for your phones and tablets and also has a wireless charging tray. We will continue to bring such unique and innovative products to the Indian market.
Q).What are some of the points where Asus products score over the competing forces in India as well as globally?
Technology and innovation are our key strengths. We have a world-class R&D team of 3,800 engineers constantly working to keep us at the top of cutting edge technology and ensuring that ASUS products can meet the quality and performance standards our customers have come to associate the brand with. We also we have a really large product portfolio that includes motherboards, graphics cards, optical drives, displays, desktop and all-in-one PCs, notebooks, netbooks, servers, multimedia devices, wireless solutions, networking devices, tablets and smartphones. This does give us an advantage as our partners get the opportunity of working with a brand that has so many products to cater to a wide variety of customer needs.
Q).How do you differentiate from your competitors?
The USP of all ASUS products is the quality and innovation that goes into them. We always try to come up with products that cater to the user demand and different usage scenarios. As one of the pioneers in this industry, we’ve in the past come up with many innovative products like the recent AIO Transformer which is the first hybrid AIO running dual OS of Windows 8 and Android 4.1 and works as a tablet as well an AIO at the same time. This is also our 25th year of operation and by now we have a lot of experience in IT products and hardware and its sales and distribution.
Q).What are some of the trends that the industry is going to see in year ahead?
There has been a drop in the entry segment demand but the demand from the mid and high end PC users has shown a positive growth.Users still need a centralized Home / Family PC where the data is stored and secured. The users also are aware of the fact that an upgradability options is better in component products than in a finished product. If we leverage the notebook growth, the surrounding accessories business like WLL /Media players / Speakers / Headset have a much larger market to look into.
Q).With lots of competition and me too brands around, how do you seek to break the clutter?
Product availability, price to performance ratio, a strong brand pull and customer marketing are some of the key factors that work in the favor of ASUS. Over the years, the channel has recognized ASUS as an industry leader in motherboards and have appreciated our products and given us full support. Also, we have a very strong brand recall amongst tech savvy customers and have a very wide portfolio across both Intel and AMD platforms which sets us apart from other vendors. But largely the credit for our success goes to our channel partners as without their support and co-operation this feat would not have been possible.
Q).What is the big focus of ASUS today? What are some of the top priorities for ASUS in India?
On the desktop side, consumers are now ready to pay a premium for gaming PCs. The IT spending in India is projected to a total of $71.5 billion in 2013, a 7.7 percent increase from the $66.4 billion that was forecasted for 2012, according to Gartner, Inc. The computing hardware market in India is projected to reach approximately $8 billion in 2013 and is growing at a rate of approximately 8%. The growth drivers are from the emerging B, C & D class cities and towns where the growth is about 20%. The new segments where there will be growth and business are surely gaming and high end PCs for specialized usage like designers, animation, studios, VFX. Assemblers who can tap high end buyers by offering good high end hardware will be able to grow their profitability. After the rupee depreciation and hard drive crisis, we’ve noticed that mid and high end segment were not much affected and buyers in these segments are more value conscious and are willing to pay for quality products. The growth of IT in the commercial segment is likely to range between 10-12 percent and will be driven largely by virtualization, business applications, BI, storage solutions and cloud computing. The good news is that the SMB segment will grow faster than the rest of the industry, maybe by 15-20 percent.
Q).What are Plans for ASUS in 2013? Are you planning to come up with any unprecedented marketing initiative this year?
We frequently conduct channel seminars to educate our partners about our latest products as well as share our strategy with them. Last year we conducted our own seminars in 20 cities while our distributor Rashi Peripherals reached 41 cities and 3000+ partners with their own channel programs where our products were also promoted. We also have a strong presence in upcountry locations and overall goodwill for the brand in the IT channel. This along with various channel schemes, rebates and incentive programs for 1st and 2nd Tier partners were well received by our channel. We announce programs on a quarterly basis and work on bundle offers with most of our products. In the past we’ve given silver coins, UPS bundles, speaker bundles and will be soon announcing free gaming headphones bundle with our gaming desktops.