During our week in Taipei for Computex 2011, we managed to snag ASUS' Corporate VP & GM of Worldwide Sales, Mr Jackie Hsu, for a short chat on ASUS' ROG products.
HWZ: ASUS has just revealed the Danshui Bay concept motherboard. How likely will we see it eventually in the market?
Jackie: To be honest, we are still evaluating whether we may have some technical difficulties. To combine two totally different platforms together is really difficult. Not only do we have to leverage our internal resources, we also have to leverage that of vendors, like Intel and other component vendors. ASUS has created this concept and now we are pushing our partners to finalize this product, so hopefully we can deliver it to this market.
HWZ: Is there any target launch date for this motherboard, for instance can we expect it around the expected launch period for the Intel X79 chipset?
Jackie: I think that is even more difficult. First of all, we have the technical difficulties to overcome, then we can see when we can finalize the development.
HWZ: We haven’t seen any ROG motherboards based on the upcoming Intel X79 chipset here at Computex. What are ASUS’ plans for this enthusiast chipset?
Jackie: Laughs. I think it’s still too early to describe. I’m sorry, no.
HWZ: How does ASUS see the motherboard segment in the next five years?
Jackie: Basically, we have gotten some research reports, from IDC and other analysts, saying that for both last year and this year, the desktop market will grow slightly, from 5 to 8%. That shows a very good trend for the PC industry, because in the past, everyone was saying that the mobile segment will replace the desktop completely.
This shows that it’s not true and in fact the proportion of the desktop and notebook markets is now quite stable. So we think that different platforms have their own use scenarios. This is one of the reasons why we want to focus on the gaming segment. We put a lot of resources on this segment because we know this is something that the mobile platform cannot achieve completely. Maybe the mobile platform is good enough for casual gamers, but not for hardcore gamers. They need a more powerful machine.
Also, look at the home now, there are so many devices. If you have four persons in a family, there are at least eight devices. Each person could have a notebook, or tablet or smartphone or a desktop PC. But how can we allow communication, share our photos, our music between each other?
HWZ: So you’re talking about a media hub?
Jackie: Yes, we call it a digital hub at home. No doubt, this kind of machine can give you the most powerful performance, the most storage and the best connectivity. We can have 12 or even 16 USB ports, but how many can you get on a notebook? This is the future of the desktop. It can provide such features that cannot be replaced by mobile devices.
The next idea is commercial usage. Due to security issues, most of the machines are still desktops, especially for someone that does not travel. These machines have limited connectivity and we feel that this segment will continue to be very important. We have gotten very positive feedback from the commercial segment. The demand is really coming back. In the past three years, we have seen a drop in demand due to the financial crisis, but now it has almost recovered.
HWZ: For the commercial segment, are they buying thin and light machines or All-in-ones (AIOs)?
Jackie: It depends, for more developed countries, like Japan, they like thin and light machines. But for the majority of countries, they don’t care about this. The size or form factor of the PC is not the major issue; they care about the cost or the performance over cost.
HWZ: Gigabyte has recently launched the G1.Assassin. Does ASUS have any fresh ideas to answer the challenge?
Jackie: We have been investing a lot of resources in the gaming segment for the last five years. So we not only have the leading technologies, but we understand our users. That’s why, in our presentation, we have some special features like ThunderBolt, which not only enhances gaming performance through its LAN solution, but also lead to greater enjoyment through its audio solution. You can also use your mobile devices to overclock or control some settings on our motherboards.
So we not only excel in the performance aspect, but also provide a total gaming solution. We would also like to see more competitors in this segment, because this can help to grow the segment. But I think that we are five years ahead.
HWZ: What direction would ASUS take with ROG in the future?
Jackie: We have two ideas basically; one is to go deeper on current technology, the other is to provide wider coverage, not only the original motherboard, but now we have notebook, VGA and other devices.
HWZ: Like the headphones? (ROG Vulcan)
Jackie: Yes, headphones are the latest, but sooner or later you’ll see more. In fact ASUS has very strict conditions for using the ROG branding on different products. We care about this brand very much. There’s a high level of recognition for the ROG brand, so every single ROG product, we want to create some excitement.
For instance, we have this German retailer, who met us at CeBIT this year and told us that every ASUS product with the ROG brand has sold very well. The customers do not care which products, as long as they have the ROG brand, they associate that with high performance.
HWZ: ROG power supply next?
Jackie: Laughs. Ok, that’s a very interesting topic to describe our spirit of ROG. Why do we call it ROG? Take for example, a bottle of water, we can’t just put a ROG sticker on it. That’s not ROG, it does not have the real spirit. So, water with ROG logo, no difference, it cannot be an ROG product. Power supply, no difference? It’s not ROG unless the product can really help users to win. We cannot say we believe this product can deliver some benefits to users, but if end-users cannot recognize it, there’s no value.