Unlocked Smartphones the Future of Mobile Growth for ASUS

by Matt Klassen on May 20, 2015

As the mobile market continues to evolve so to are the players in the mobile industry continuing to change as well, with ASUS offering a prime example of how companies are redefining themselves to compete in this new market landscape.

While you undoubtedly know ASUS from the laptop world, currently the world’s fifth-largest PC manufacturer, the company wants to expand its mobile business, hoping to eek out a small piece of the mobile pie. The problem of ASUS, at least in regards to the North American mobile market, is that the company lacks the carrier partnerships necessary to roll out phones, it lacks the product catalogue to attract said carriers, and it has almost no presence in the market.

It wasn’t that long ago that such a situation would mean a company like ASUS would have no chance at competing, but the PC-maker is taking a different approach to the mobile game, adopting for the oft-failed strategy of selling unlocked smartphones directly to consumers, a move that in this growing post-contract era may actually have a chance of succeeding.

“We already have a very strong foundation for the rest of the world,” Asus Chairman Jonney Shih said. “I think if we can grab a good portion from the unlocked [market] first, I think that’s already a good start.”

With no market presence in the US to speak of, ASUS is taking measured steps to establishing a foothold, hoping that any sort of entry into the ultra-competitive American mobile market will give simply give the company a place to start. The first step, as mentioned, is to establish a reputation among the consumer base, which ASUS is hoping to do by providing solid, yet affordable, unlocked mobile products, giving those consumers looking to avoid binding contracts and wanting the freedom to choose their own carriers a few quality alternatives.

From there, Shih explained, the company plan to expand its mobile business through partnerships with US carriers, that is when ASUS establishes itself as a brand worth partnering with. “That’s the step-by-step approach,” Shih said.

To that end, Shih also announced that this week ASUS will be releasing its new flagship ZenFone 2 in the US and Canada ($199 for the 16GB version, $299 for the 64 GB version), both offered unlocked and contract-free. The phones will be available directly to consumers through a variety of outlets, including Amazon.com, Newegg.com, Groupon.com and B&H in the US and NCIX.com and a few other venues in Canada.

All that to say, we’ve seen this direct-to-consumer approach before, and it has never worked out well, but the difference now for ASUS is that the entire mobile market is moving away from the traditional carrier-centric contract model, meaning more and more consumers are looking for affordable, no-contract prepaid options, and that’s where ASUS may find its niche.

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