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Asustek Seeks to Challenge Apple in Tablets

Asustek Seeks to Challenge Apple in Tablets

9 Dec 2012

Taiwanese electronics maker Asustek Computer Inc. 2357.TW +0.48% is trumpeting that  it will be Apple’s biggest challenger in combined tablet and notebook shipments by next year.

That’s right — Asustek thinks it can beat out everyone else besides Apple.

Although it’s the world’s biggest motherboard maker and fifth-largest laptop maker by shipments, Asustek — whose computers are sold under the “Asus” brand – is still unfamiliar to many Western consumers.

But Asustek’s thrown its hat in the ring this year with two aggressively priced products: the Nexus 7, a popular $199 seven-inch tablet it’s selling in partnership withGoogle Inc. GOOG -1.00%, and the 11.6-inch Vivobook, currently the top-selling touch screen notebook on Best Buy Co. BBY -1.64%’s website at $499.99.

While it’s far from a sure bet that Asustek can vault past larger tablet competitors such as South Korea’s Samsung – currently the world’s second biggest tablet maker by shipments — analysts say its latest low-priced offerings at least gives it a seat at the big kids’ table of the mobile computing realm.

Asustek has been trying to carve out a niche in tablet-notebook hybrid devices. It’s also been targeting the U.S. market this year by, for instance, starting up a Twitter presence in May.

Asustek Chief Financial Officer David Chang said Monday that the company expects to ship 12 million Android tablets in 2013, up 90.5% from 6.3 million in 2012. It expects combined Windows notebook and tablet shipments to grow 7.6% to 24 million units in 2013 from 22.3 million this year.

Mr. Chang says he believes the popularity of seven-inch tablets can boost the company to second place in combined tablet and notebook shipments after Apple next year. The company’s quarterly tablet shipments have tripled since the launch of the Nexus 7 in July.

But analysts say silver medal is still a lofty goal for this little-known Taiwanese company, which takes its name from the hind half of Pegasus, the mythical winged horse. In the third quarter, Asustek ranked fourth among tablet makers with 8.6% of the market, behind Apple with 50.4%, Samsung with 18.4% and Inc. AMZN -0.04% with 9.0%, according to market researcher IDC.