Asus: A US Smartphone Contender?

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As new Asus hardware hits the market in the form of the all-new Nexus 7 tablet, the company is already talking new hardware for 2014, this time in the form of a smartphone. It will be the first time the Taipei, Taiwan-based computer hardware company has attempted to crack into the Apple-Samsung dominated smartphone market in the United States, but, the company said, it intends to be strong enough to shake things up.

"For the phone, frankly speaking, we are still the latecomers," Asus Chairman Jonney Shih told AllThingsD, adding "we are making progress." Asus will not be storming the U.S. smartphone market prematurely, Shih said, but rather will be taking its time building relationships with carriers and retailers to bulk up the chances of success.

Michael Wieser, chief mobility officer of Evanston, Ill.-based solution provider, Breakthrough Technologies, said Asus' ability to land carriers will be the key to its success. "It is one thing to bring a new device to the U.S., but I don't ever hear buzz about a new devices until it makes it to a carrier."

[Related: Another Kind Of Hybrid: Eight Top Notch Phablets]

Asus' smartphone-tablet combination devices have seen some popularity overseas. The Fonepad, a 7-inch phablet and Google Note competitor, along with the Padphone, a smartphone that docks into its partner tablet, are both Android devices.

Kelly Johnson, Owner of Tekpipeline, a Boise, Idaho-based solution provider, said he would be pleased to see Asus bring a smartphone to the U.S.

"There is a need for good competition out there, and Asus makes some really quality devices. If they go with Android, they will have a lot higher chance of surviving," Johnson said.

Wieser was more hesitant in Asus' idea that a new smartphone would be able to really shake things up in the enterprise world.

"Right now, companies seem to be comfortable with the Samsung, Apple and BlackBerry devices. It takes time, especially for larger companies, to approve and make a switch to new devices." Wieser continued, "Of course, if they release something that differentiates [the device], something really innovative, the device could catch on."

Targeting certain verticals, Wieser said, may also improve Asus' chance of a successful smartphone. If the device is bundled with special software or features attractive to a particular field, it could also give the new smartphone some edge.

Shih told AllThingsD that the phone will most likely be released in 2014, but did not specify when.


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