Asus talks retail, new gadgets and the powerful allure of innovation

By Claire Reilly

With Windows 8 set to go on sale tonight, suppliers are preparing to release a raft of new touch-based products using the new operating system. One such brand is Asus, which unveiled a range of new products in Sydney last night, including its new dual-screen tablet/notebook hybrid.

To get a better understanding of the line-up and what it will bring to retailers, spoke to Asus’ retail account manager Bradley Howe about the brand’s new products, and the point of difference offered by Microsoft’s latest software release.

According to Howe, Asus went on a national tour with its product management team a month ago to show retailers the new range of personal computing products, and the whole range was very well received.

“The response from retailers has been fantastic,” said Howe. “They’re really excited, because it’s something very different, something very new.

“The feedback they’ve given us is that we’ve got the most comprehensive range of touch-enabled products for Q4, so we’re pretty pumped about that, and we’re very excited to get these products on the shelf. It’s something new for the industry to sell that’s not just your standard notebook.”

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Despite the fact that there will be plenty of other brands fighting for a share of the spotlight in retail stores over the coming months, Howe said Asus was focusing on a “thin and light” message when bringing its products to market in order to best educate retailers on the benefits.

“We’ve got a lot of thin and light products,” he said. “We’ve got a new S series that is really thin and light and new casework in our K series that is really thin and light.

“We’ve also got some products, for example our VivoBook F202, starting at $499 – that’s a really sharp price point for the market. When retailers look at that product, they say ‘This is clearly a $699 or $799 machine’. But then you tell them the price, and that it’s a touch screen, and they’re blown away. When you think about it, it’s a really solid machine for $500.”

As the premium machine of the range, the strategy for the TaiChi is to offer a general retail release, though Howe conceded that it won’t necessarily be the right fit for all stores.

“The TaiChi will be available to all retailers, but at the end of the day, some retailers don’t have the capability to sell that really premium product. So we’ll be selling it through the usual mass merchants, but not all stores. For one, they don’t necessarily have the space to put it in their stores, and two, it’s not necessarily their price point.”

Either way, Howe said the release of the TaiChi would have positive flow-on effects for consumer perception of the Asus brand as a whole.

“It’s all about innovation,” he said. “People look at manufacturers that can build a product like the TaiChi, and they say, ‘Well if Asus can build such an innovative product that is so different and so out there, then they should be able to build a standard notebook computer really well as well. They may not purchase that $1,599 machine, but it might seal the deal on that $699 or $799 machine that they can afford.”

The new F202 VivoBook is set to retail for $499.

Performers from the group Aerialise introduced the Asus TaiChi at last night's launch.

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