Rumors that Asus was planning to shift its focus from value for money and affordable smartphones to high-end premium and gaming phones seem to have been proved right. A number of reports say that the company has confirmed that it is going to follow a new strategy in mobile phones, focusing more on high-end and devices like the ROG gaming phone. This would seem to indicate a decrease in emphasis, if not the end, of the more value for money Zenfone series of devices.
Asus CEO Shen Zhenlai (Jerry Shen) has announced that he would step down his post, and focus on the AI field. This ends his eleven year tenure with the company, one in which he was seen as the main force behind devices like the PadFone, Transformer series, the ZenBook series and of course, the Zenfone. The company’s board of directors has replaced him with two Co CEOs, Xu Xianyue (the general manager of the PC division) and Hu Shubin, who is part of the Global Customer Service team. Both have been associated with Asus devices like the EeePC (a device that many identify with Shen) and the Transformer series, although neither is well known in the industry. The company is also planning to invest in what it calls AIOT (a combination of artificial intelligence and Internet of Things) but the focus there will be more on B2B and commercial applications.
But perhaps the greatest interest comes from the confirmation of the news that Asus will now be focusing more on the premium and gaming segment of the smartphone market. The decision is an interesting one when one considers that the brand has done very well in the value for money, budget segment of the market with the original Zenfone 5 and the recently released Zenfone Max Pro M2. There is no clarity about the fate of the Zenfone range itself, which used to be the brand’s flag bearer in the value for money segment (the ROG phone does not have Zenfone branding, interestingly), with speculation rife about whether the range will even exist or be consigned to history.
Asus has issued the following statement in this regard:
“With regards to the doubts raised by some on the continuation of the ZenFone brand, we confirm that we will continue to develop the ZenFone series, while also aiming to expand the gaming smartphone market. We will focus on perfecting solutions for gamers and power users.”
The statement is a little confusing and hints at diplomatic doublespeak as it says the company will continue to develop the Zenfone series, but also says that it will “focus on perfecting solutions for gamers and power users.” That would seem to indicate to some that the Zenfone series will exist but the brand will not focus on it. Unless of course, the Zenfone branding is carried over to the gaming and premium series. We would not rule that out, given the dramatic events at the company over the past day.