After years of dominating the motherboard market, Asus Computer International is setting its sights on increasing sales of its lesser-known electronic products.

In particular the company wants to boost the market share of laptops carrying

its name, said Raymond Chen, vice-president of North American marketing for the Taiwan-based company.

“Starting from this point we are trying to drive more awareness of our branded notebooks,” he said in an interview.

Part of that campaign included the opening last week of an Asus Canada website highlighting the company’s six laptops, with pricing in Canadian dollars. The line ranges in price from $1,499 to $2,699.

There will also sales incentives for distributors and reseller as well as an increase in the number of public events in shopping malls to give the brand increased visibility.

Chen’s most recent visit here, for example, was for an Asus display on Canada Day in a mall north of Toronto. Other shows have been in Calgary and Vancouver.

He’s also talking to big box retailers such as Future Shop and Best Buy to carry the line.

Chen estimated Asus sells 1,000 laptops a month in Canada, “With effort we can increase this dramatically,” he predicted.

It may take some effort. According to Michelle Warren of Evans Research, of the 275,700 branded laptops sold in the first quarter, Asus sales were so small they weren’t tracked separately. Dell commands the top with a 28 per cent share, followed by Toshiba with 19 per cent and Hewlett-Packard with 16 per cent.

“Toshiba and Dell have such strong market share, coupled with a really good brand name,” she said.</p

However, Acer had 14 per cent of sales, an astonishing leap from the same quarter the year before when it held only three per cent, thanks in part to aggressive pricing.

“There will have to be push for Asus to boost (its market share) up a bit,” she said. “They definitely have strong name in the industry. If they could get some reseller partnerships lined up and get their product in front of users, it’s definitely doable.”

Chen acknowledged that only in the last two years has Asus put more emphasis on its branded models, which the company has been making for six years.

“Before we were only selling a selective number of (branded) models,” he said. “This year we have more models for more segments.”

Production of branded laptops last year was 1.8 million units. However, this year the company has set a goal of shipping 3.8 million.

However, it doesn’t yet have a 17-in. widescreen product.Chen also said the company is enhancing its whitebook line of laptops for system builders, which come without CPUs, hard drives or software.

The company is also known for its graphic cards and optical drives, and Chen estimates these, along with motherboards, account for 60 to 70 per cent of its Canadian sales.

However, along with notebooks Asus also plans to push its other products this year, which include PDAs and wireless routers and access points, by adding more retailers.

In addition, he said it will bring in Asus branded monitors, which are selling in other parts of the world, “within six to nine months.”

He hopes the new Canadian notebook Web site will spark increased awareness of the Asus line.

“If that works we will gradually move (information about) all our products there,” he said.


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