The Taipei Times reports that during an investor's conference call following the company's third quarter financial report, Asus chief executive officer Jerry Shen said that the company plans to launch new smartphones during CES 2014 in Las Vegas this January. Asus is looking to grow its smartphone business from around 1 million units in 2013 to 5 million units in 2014, a figure backed by the growing number of retail stores in China and cooperation with more tier-one telecom operators across the globe.
"We remain optimistic about the desktop and laptop market, but our priority is to make the company's smartphone business turn a profit next year," Asus chief financial officer David Chang added.
Asus also plans to launch new Chromebooks, or rather laptops sporting Google's Chrome OS, sometime within Q1 2014. The company is targeting students and teachers with two models: an 11.6 inch unit for $199 USD and a 13.3 inch unit for $249 USD. Currently, laptops are Asus' biggest source of income, making up 57 percent of the sales followed by tablets at 20 percent and motherboards at 13 percent.
In addition to jumping on the Chromebook bandwagon, the company also has plans to introduce wearable devices during Computex in early June 2014. The news isn't surprising given that many competitors have already jumped into the wearable tech pool including Sony, Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung, Google and a number of others. The smartwatch market is suddenly heating up, and we're betting that's what Asus may reveal during the show next summer.
For the calendar fourth quarter, Asus expects to see its notebook shipments to grow 8.88 percent to 4.9 million units from the previous third quarter. Tablet shipments are expected to increase 2.85 percent to 3.6 million units, while motherboard shipments are expected to actually drop 3.63 percent to 5.3 million units. The company also expects an operating margin of 4 or 5 percent, compared with 4.5 percent last quarter.
Why is Asus producing Chromebooks? Shen indicated that the company wants to broaden its reach outside the traditional Windows-based envelope. However, the Chrome OS platform is struggling to gain market share, as the market is currently sitting at a mere 1 percent in Q3 2013 according to IDC numbers. Samsung led the Chromebook train during that quarter, selling around 652,000 units and others providing a "tiny volume." Asus is undoubtedly looking to change that market percentage.