In a surprising turn of events, long-term Asus CEO Jerry Shen has announced that he is leaving the company. Come January 1, 2019, Asus will bid adieu to Shen as part of what is being called a “comprehensive corporate transformation” inside the company in question. This will see the company adopt a co-CEO structure and a new product strategy when it comes to its mobile business. Going forward, Asus will focus largely on gamers and power users as target audience, which may be a subtle way of saying that it may be looking to discontinue its ZenFone lineup in favour of something like the ROG branding.
Asus has however come up and tried to clear the air around its ZenFone lineup and its future. “With regard 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 company said in statement to Republic World.
The statement however raises more questions than it answers. While Asus has categorically denied assumptions around the purported discontinuation of the ZenFone lineup, the future of the ZenFone lineup may end up similar to the time when the company tried locking horns directly with the Samsungs and the Apples of the world through top-tier premium flagships like the ZenFone 3. The ZenFone 3 lineup, although it screamed premium with specs to match, was criticised for its atrocious pricing. Especially in India. The strategy didn’t work, and Asus then took a year off to seemingly understand the market demands of the country.
In 2018, Asus came back with all guns blazing. Its weapon of choice was a phone that cost under Rs 20,000 -- the ZenFone Max Pro M1. The ZenFone Max Pro M1 was then followed by a true flagship called the ZenFone 5Z, that received rave reviews not because it was a true flagship, but because it was so aggressively priced.
While Asus hinting at a shift in strategy to cater more towards gamers and power users does not necessarily reflect on its pricing strategy globally or for India, the company has launched the ROG Phone in the country recently at an upwards of Rs 65,000 clearly suggesting it may not employ the same strategy of pricing its products aggressively each and every time. In such a scenario, when there’s word that Asus may favour a certain ROG Phone for gamers and power users, doubts surrounding the future of affordable ZenFones are but obvious. Hopefully things will become clear soon.