It’s always intimidating talking to any head of any company, especially if he’s the person responsible for a global brand such as ASUS. But current Global CEO, Mr. Jerry Shen, makes you feel at ease even when you ask him some hard-hitting questions. That’s pretty much what happened during the morning of the Philippine launch of ASUS’s next installment on their Zenfone line, the ASUS Zenfone 4 Series.
We got to spend a quick couple of minutes with Mr. Shen, and other top-ranking ASUS Global executives namely Shawn Chang, George Su, Eric Chen and Marcel Campos before the formal presentation. There, people from the Media were able to ask the group about the Zenfone 4, it’s series and a couple of questions and concerns about ASUS’s future.
While majority of the questions centered on ASUS’s renewed focus on mobile photography and the technical aspects of it, it was Reg Ramos of DR on the GO that opened a rather particular discussion about the ASUS’s somewhat late decision to fit their phones with dual camera setups.
The question, to paraphrase, is with all other brands having had dual-camera smart phones already, is the Zenfone 4 Series now playing catch up and will it seem like they’re just following a trend instead of forging something that’s truly for them? Marcel Campos, ASUS Head of Global Content Marketing for Mobile, said something really interesting. He said that in this industry, being the first doesn’t really equate to much. What’s important is doing things right.
And with ASUS Zenfone 4’s laser-sharp focus on mobile photography across all units, with the countless hours of engineering, working with Qualcomm (processors) and SONY (IMX sensor) it seems that they’re now in a position of power to truly try and dominate in the realm of mobile photography. This is, according to Marcel, what doing things looks like.
He even illustrates how Apple has never really been the first to launch anything, but their “innovation” came in the form of launching the right product at the right time. Take the iPod as an example. Before its release, the mp3 has been in existence and mp3 players have been in abundance and yet the iPod thrived and helped Apple be where they are now.
If anything, what’s interesting here is the design and brand philosophy behind ASUS’s mobile arm. In the past it seems like they were outing singular products with focus on singular mobile computing components– ASUS Zenfone Laser, ASUS Zenfone Zoom, etc. And while each have their own strengths, consumer want the whole package in one unit. With a campaign like We Love Photo and how the dual-camera and mobile photography is taken much into consideration in every consumer’s product experience journey, the somewhat disjointed branding of the past is now gone and what you have is an effective messaging that builds towards the brand’s strength and personality.
Even the naming convention of the series changed. The units are more streamlined now with having both a “normal” and “pro” version — Zenfone 4, Zenfone 4 Pro, Zenfone 4 Selfie, Zenfone 4 Selfie Pro. Notice a pattern? Doesn’t it feel like they’re gunning for Apple’s naming convention of their Macbook and Macbook Pro line? Duey of sister-site, Unbox, noticed this and asked the Global Execom about it. Shawn Chang, ASUS Global Product Manager, explains that by simplifying the branding convention, it helps deliver the message of a) what the phone has to offer and b) what brand or line stands for faster. Max = battery; Selfie = powerful front camera optics; Zenfone = flagship standard. The Pro versions are simply much more superior versions of these and it pretty much now gives consumers more option. If you belong to the upper echelon of society and owning the “normal” stuff isn’t enough, there’s the Pro version for you. Simple, fast, effective messaging. And again this, to me, adds further strength to the campaign.
While focus on photography seems to be the main key aspect of the Zenfone 4 for the afternoon, we couldn’t let the morning go by without asking about mobile gaming and if ASUS, as a brand that has worked with gamers and gaming tournaments, will they now dip their hands in this particular segment. The question was met with a pleasant reaction across all the ASUS Global Execom people. Marcel Campos revealed that the company was close to actually launching an ROG Phone during the Zenfone 2 lineup. But they had to go back tot he drawing board and discuss this thoroughly among themselves.
“It’s not just about changing a color or slapping a brand. We have to know what gamers really want out of the smart phone and how we can translate the true DNA of ROG into a smartphone. If we go into this, we have to make sure we deliver what gamers really want — and not just general gamers — the real (sic hardcore/ esports) gamers, otherwise they’ll not buy the idea and we’ll look bozos in the market. We want to do things right and these things make time.”
So while we’re not getting an ROG phone soon, it’s great that ASUS is on the look out for that possibility. Jerry Shen, ASUS Global CEO, is quite enthusiastic with the prospect of crafting one and who knows, maybe with the current rise of mobile esports and when developers create more sophisticated mobile games, we may truly see a time when a smartphone is specifically designed and crafted with gamers in mind.
For now, with the current design and branding philosophy of ASUS and ASUS Zenfone in place, we can rest easy knowing that the company that is just on its 3rd year of manufacturing smartphones, is well on its way to becoming a stalwart in this frenzied and exciting industry.