By Alexandra Burlacu | Jul 30, 2013 05:46 AM EDT
The U.S. smartphone market is one of the world's toughest, but ASUS is apparently ready to take a chance and ASUS-branded smartphones may hit the market next year.
ASUS may be famous for its Google Nexus 7 slates and its Transformer line of tablets, but it has yet to make it on the U.S. smartphone market. The high-end segment of the market is clearly dominated by Apple and Samsung, leaving even heavyweight players such as Sony, LG and HTC struggling for a piece of that pie. The low-end segment, meanwhile, has plenty of competition of its own.
Speaking with AllThingsD (ATD) in an interview after the new Nexus 7's launch last week, ASUS chairman Jonney Shih said that his company is building relationships with carriers and retailers, but it's not rushing things.
"For the phone, frankly speaking, we are still the latecomers," Shih told ATD. "We are making progress."
ASUS focuses its initial efforts in countries where it had already established strong relationships with retailers and carriers, but the company is now gunning for the highly-competitive U.S. smartphone market. According to Shih, the company is already working hard to make it happen, but it may not manage to enter the market this year.
"I think next year is more reasonable," Shih reckoned, according to AllThingsD.
ASUS already has some telephony products such as the Padfone, but that's more of a hybrid device. The Padfone is an Android device that can dock into a larger screen, gaining more battery capacity and transforming into a tablet. The ASUS Fonepad, on the other hand, is a 7-inch slate that allows users to make phone calls as well. While holding up a 7-inch tablet to one's ear to make a call may not be all that comfortable, ASUS is relying on the fact that consumers nowadays use phones less for calling and more for their computing capabilities.
Some people did use the Fonepad as a phone, but Shih acknowledged that there's only so much that one can accept in terms of phone size. Samsung has constantly pushed phone sizes to increasingly greater dimensions, but a 7-inch device is nonetheless too large to be considered a phone and be easily used as such.
ASUS has a good reputation in the Android market, which means that at least in theory the company should be able to draw some interest if it joins the U.S. market with its own smartphones. If its upcoming handsets are at least as good as its Nexus 7 tablets, the company have a good chance to make it.
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