Bottom line: Asus will begin a “comprehensive corporate transformation” at the beginning of next year, enabling them to focus more on gaming and power user markets and how they relate to emerging technologies such as AI. As part of this shift, Asus' 11-year CEO Jerry Shen will step down and create a new company.
Shen revealed the news in an interview with Business Next, where he said that both himself and Asus are ready for something fresh. During his time at the company, he led the charge on many fan favorites, such as the original Eee PC (an early ultrabook), the Zenbook, Transformer and Zenfone lines. He’ll become CEO of a new “AIoT” (Artificial Intelligence + Internet of Things) company called iFast, of which Asus has a 30% stake.
As of January 1st, Asus will have two co-CEOs: PC business head S.Y. Hsu and global customer service lead Samson Hu. Other than a general focus on gaming, the main purpose of the restructure is to completely rework the company’s mobile division, at a “loss of inventory” cost of $160 million.
According to Asus Chairman Jonney Shih, the current mobile market is a “bloody battlefield” that’s overpopulated by budget Chinese options. While Asus’ Zenfones have been well received for the last few years, they’ve been criticised for mimicking other phones, such as the iPhone X, too closely. While Asus will start afresh, they confirmed to Gadgets 360 that they’ll keep the brand name.
"With regard to 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."
Key to Asus’ new strategy will be the development of their overkill Republic of Gamer's phones. The first generation of ROG phone came with a 90Hz OLED screen, 8GB of RAM and an “overclocked” Snapdragon 845. It did a respectable job of being a gaming phone but failed to convince reviewers that a gaming phone was even necessary.
According to Asus, however, mobile gaming hardware is a lucrative market in Asia, where the ROG phone has seen reasonable success. Asus even suggested that they were considering releasing an entire lineup of ROG phones in the near future, with some specifically targeting the emerging “mobile esports” market.