With time, the Taiwanese company has made its gaming range, ROG, a strength with multiple assets. Jonathan Angel, marketing director France d 'Asus, explains why this parallel locomotive is important for the company.
In 2006, Asus took his first steps in gaming by creating the range Republic of Gamers, ROG, which gave birth to Strix, Zephyrus and other TUF. With more than a dozen years on the clock, the brand has made a name for itself in the competitive hardware gaming market. Jonathan Angel, Marketing Director France of Asus, agreed to answer some questions.
Interview with Jonathan Angel, Asus Marketing Director France
Clubic: How does the company Asus derive from these first twelve years in the world of gaming with ROG?
Jonathan Angel : For Asus, the balance sheet is extremely positive. We were pioneers in 2006 by launching our gaming line, Republic of Gamers. Very few brands were positioned in this segment, which remained a niche market. Being able to feel the future evolution of the market allowed us to position ourselves from the beginning as a leader in computer gaming and keep this place until today.
We started with gaming-oriented motherboards, graphics cards, and desktop PCs. When we launched the gaming laptops, we were the first at ROG, and few people believed it. A year and a half ago, if we were talking about smartphone gaming, many people were smiling.
Do not you fear that the general public will end up associating you totally with a brand 100% gaming?
We are very careful. We must already be careful to distinguish between ROG and Asus. If ROG belongs to Asus, we dissociate communications and products very clearly. When you have a ROG product in hand, you will notice that there is almost no Asus logo that appears, and it does not even appear on the product anymore.
We also have dissociated social networks accounts, dissociated product managers. Even if we obviously have the chance to be able to do a lot of synergy, they are two brands that live individually.
Asus, we continue to innovate, with ultraportable particular. There is a constant search for evolution, whether on the consumer or the gamer, which allows us to maintain a clean DNA according to whether we speak of gaming or conventional PC.
ASUS TUF505 (Credits: Asus)
"It is essential to be present in e-sport and to support professional players"
On e-sports, you recently joined the ESL (Electronic Sports League), which brings together millions of players. What are the contours of this partnership?
It makes sense when you look at the history of Republic of Gamers, which has also been a forerunner to accompany professional video game players. The partnership is frankly about hardware. We are now the preferred choice of gamers. We provide PCs and monitors to the ESL for the ESL One competition. There are six major dates for ESL One, the first of which took place last February in Poland.
For us, the investment is important and makes it possible to realize in the long term that it is essential to be present in the e-sport and to accompany the professional players. ESL is a global partnership signed by our parent company, which is an international competition.
Asus also has his own e-sports team in LFL (French League of Legends), which is called ROG Esport.
How is the ROG brand evolving today in the gaming market?
We are fortunate to have leadership and to keep it. In the gaming notebook market in France, Asus' market shares are 41% in volume and 44% in value. What is impressive after all these years is to maintain those levels of leadership. We owe it to our great ecosystem, which remains the great strength of Republic of Gamers. We are not just a maker of motherboards, PCs or headsets … but we do everything: the laptop, the desktop PC, the screens, the smartphone, the motherboard, the graphics card, the keyboards, mouse, helmets and even seats for gamers.
We continue to be the leader in many of these markets, but the global ecosystem makes it possible to differentiate itself from others.
"The pace of arrival of pro products will really increase"
On the slowdown in the PC market, do you have a fear, or do you think that gaming is above this downward trend?
Compared to that, we remain relatively serene. It is obvious that the PC market had its peak a few years ago, because of equipment that was not at the maximum. Today, it is very high, which prevents the market from growing in volume.
Nevertheless, the market remains a carrier of innovation and value-added products. We are talking about a highly technological product, indispensable in the daily lives of millions of users.
But the growth rates that we have had over the last ten years will no longer be the same. It's up to us to find growth drivers, like gaming. The average price of a PC gamer is more important than a conventional PC, it should not be forgotten. We have other growth drivers, such as mobile gaming, and another, that of B2B, which Asus holds tremendously, since you know that in business, the laptop is completely essential.
On the pro side, Asus is the third largest reseller in the SME market. The pace of arrival of pro products will really increase, since now it will be every 6 or 7 months that we will present a new pro offer, embellished with parallel markets like the workstation part or the Chromebook part in business.
More generally, how is Asus today?
Asus is a big international group with a lot of products. What should be noted is that we have two large business units (services). The first is our historical heart, which is the component. Asus is born with the component, which includes motherboards, graphics cards, sound cards … all these products that have been the genesis of computing.
This BU has evolved, with the development of personal computing, creating a second service, oriented around finished products, which includes laptops, fixed, but also smartphones and tablets. Within this second business unit, we have the ROG brand, which is cross-services, since we have both ROG components and ROG finished products, which makes it possible to be present on a historical market, and on all new markets.
ROG Zephyrus S GX532 (Credits: Asus)
In addition to this, we have the ability to innovate with connected watches for example, which are part of the business units mentioned above but which allow to continue to innovate and to propose new products.
"On home automation and connected objects, there is still a form of democratization to look for"
Since you are talking about connected watches … Are you planning in the future to establish your presence in the connected objects market or even domotics?
It is a market in which we believe a lot and in which investments have already been made. But in this market, there is still a form of democratization to look for, especially in Europe. We are ready, and we already have the solutions either in the laboratory or already on the territories ready to welcome them.
On the IoT in the broader sense: we have a range of products with connected watches, but also home automation products, since we are among the leaders among all that is servers and routers. We have recently invested in a Taiwanese start-up with whom we have been able to develop the AIoT: the artificial intelligence associated with connected objects, to have a kind of lab of the future which will allow to release the connected products of tomorrow, in link with artificial intelligence.
How is Asus doing today?
The figures are consolidated at the world level, where we are talking about a turnover of 15 billion dollars for about 15,000 employees in dozens of countries.
The French market, it is essential for Asus at the world level, since it is a market on which we are leaders on gaming laptops but also on the components. We employ between 100 and 110 people in France, where we have people who have been there since the beginning and for a very significant number of years. Our turnover is quite low, and we grow slowly but surely.
The year 2018 was a bit difficult on the whole market. Everyone, if only on the PC but also on telephony, has suffered a lot. We still maintained a slight growth. We are moving forward in the first quarter of 2019 with a recovery in growth, particularly in the PC market, for Asus, while the PC market in France is slightly down. Asus gains market share. The PC volume comes mainly from Asus products. But over the last few years, consumer PC consumer volume has stagnated, while PC gamer volume has increased. The share of ROG has increased a little in the group.
"ROG is built around its community, it's very important for us"
Tell us about the show Boost My PC and the marketing contribution of such an operation, which seems to have a real added value.
Boost My PC, it's really very important for ROG. For us, that represents the spirit of Republic of Gamers. It is a program that existed several years ago and that we have maintained for several editions. We had a pause before relaunching it early in 2019.
The show represents the performance, we will look for the best with, in addition, a small dose of fun, and an offbeat tone for the benefit of our community. ROG is built around his community, it's very important for us. There were not millions of people around … and the people who were present at the beginning are loyal to the brand.
It was important for ROG to accompany these people, who dreamed of being fully equipped with ROG equipment. We are talking about very high performance hardware, with a real cost, and the concept of Boost My PC, was to help those fans who did not have the luck or the means to have this material, and their give a fully Republic of Gamers configuration and trendy.
Will the show come back more frequently?
We relaunched the show in 2019 and announced that we would be back very quickly with a new episode in the coming months. The call for selection is coming soon, and we look forward to receiving applications.
We are asking fans to send us their video application to show us their current material. Many compete creatively by making videos that have hundreds and hundreds of views while they are not influencers, but just because they have made videos that are often very funny to deride their current material. The creative participation of fans is what makes the show so charming.
"Mobile gaming? This is the launch of the market »
Let's talk a few moments about the ROG Phone … Many blame him for disproportionate prices for its accessories. What do you say to that?
The most important thing for us was to get into this mobile gaming market with a complete solution. As a Republic of Gamers, it was important to offer something that was frankly different, and therefore more complete, which also has a cost of development.
It's the launch of the market, it's the very beginning of the gamers accessories for mobile phones, so inevitably, when we launch all that, we discover the market and we need to grope, to propose solutions that in a first time can have a price a little bit above, like any new technology, like any new product, where prices line up and go towards something that seems more consistent in the overall offer.
The ROG Phone has its strong points … like the USB type C port on the side to be able to put it aside, or the Air Triggers to play even without accessories. Each accessory brings a very strong added value to the smartphone.
The ROG Phone and one of its accessories, the GameVice (Credits: Alexandre Boero for Clubic.com)