Asus seeks to expand smartphone presence in Europe, China and US

The Taiwanese PC maker is targeting more smartphone sales in the U.S. and Europe

Asustek Computer isn't exactly known for smartphones, but the Taiwanese PC maker is aiming to bring more Android phones to U.S. and European markets this year.

A year ago, Asus introduced its ZenFone line, a range of Android handsets, and demand for the phones is growing.

In the fourth quarter, Asus shipped 4.5 million smartphones, up from a mere 200,000 units in the first quarter of 2014.

The shipments are still small compared to those of leading vendors such as Apple and Samsung Electronics, but Asus is among the PC makers hoping to break out from the notebook market by releasing more mobile devices. In 2017, Asus expects revenue from its mobile business to surpass that of its PCs.

On Friday, Asus said the ZenFone has been a big success in Taiwan and in Asian markets. Going forward, the company wants to expand its smartphone sales into the U.S. and Europe, Asus CEO Jerry Shen said in an earnings call.

On March 30, it will announce a new product in France, and in April it will hold another event in the U.S., he said.

In 2014, the company shipped 8.5 million smartphones, and for this year it wants to double that figure.

To reach that goal, Asus is also targeting more sales in emerging markets including India, Russia and Brazil, along with Southeast Asia.

The other major market Asus is trying to sell to is neighboring mainland China. It's the world's largest market for smartphones, but competition in the country is stiff, with even big players including Samsung and Lenovo facing pressure from local rivals, offering low-priced Android handsets.

"Everybody is most worried about China," Shen said.

Simply achieving a 1 percent share in China -- something Shen sees as easily possible -- could amount to 4 million units over the year. To reach consumers, Asus wants to sell more phones through e-commerce channels.

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