EXCLUSIVE: Laptops, smartphones should be included in essential commodities list, says Asus India’s Dinesh Sharma
As most people continue to work from home amid the ongoing lockdown, Asus India’s Mobile Business Head, Dinesh Sharma wants the government to include laptops and smartphones in essential items list to meet the demand and ensure smooth operations. In an exclusive interview with Zee Business, Dinesh said that the coronavirus outbreak has led to an immediate requirement of laptops and Asus is trying to find ways to help with that.
“The biggest disruption caused by coronavirus is that now everybody wants laptops. We are working on how to serve this demand. For example, in case there is an emergency and a bank wants laptops, we are looking at options to help in that regard,” he said.
Dinesh said that the basic necessities have changed and now, in modern times, include Roti, Kapda and Mobile. He said that this calls for a change in our approach.
“In the current scenario, everyone has been asked to work from home. For this, you need laptops, tablets and smartphones. These products are not included in essentials. The government should consider including laptops and smartphones in essential services to help people,” he said.
WATCH | Talking Tech During Lockdown with Dinesh Sharma
Asked if the virus can have an impact on Asus’ overall market strategy in India, Dinesh said that there are several factors that have to be looked at. He explained that the COVID-19 crisis has had an impact on world economy which has led to a fluctuation in currencies.
“Rupee has depreciated from Rs 70 per dollar to around Rs 76-77. Because of this the input cost has increased. Even though we are making products in India, the components are supplied from outside in US dollars. This can impact the price of products in future,” he added.
Another blow for smartphone companies came in the form on GST hike. The government had increased the GST rates on mobile phones from 12 per cent to 18 per cent, forcing several smartphone makers to go for a price hike. Even though Asus hasn’t changed the prices of its smartphones, it is likely to happen sooner or later.
“Most smartphone makers have already increased prices. And, an important factor here is the GST hike which has come into effect from April 1. The additional 6 per cent will definitely have an impact on prices,” Dinesh said.
Asus’ last smartphone in India was the ROG Phone II, a disruptor in the premium segment. Offering top of the line hardware at a starting price of Rs 37,999. The aggressive pricing had left most smartphone lovers stunned and according to Dinesh, it has been the most successful smartphone from Asus till now.
“ROG Phone II has been our biggest success in the premium segment till date. The ROG brand has a special place in the gaming segment. ROG Phone II changed the strategy of a lot of brands and not just us. It was also the most awarded phone of 2019,” he said.
The company, however, has faced multiple issues with the supply and is struggling to meet the demand.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to meet the demand. We had issues with the supply in the beginning. After December we were able to stabilize the demand but from Feb onwards, it has hit again. China had started facing the impact of coronavirus and then the lockdown was imposed in India too. We will try to bring the product back in stock immediately after the lockdown is over,” he added.
WATCH | Talking Tech During Lockdown with Dinesh Sharma
The lockdown came at a time when Asus is usually preparing to launch its new flagship smartphone under its ‘Z’ series. While competitors like OnePlus have opted for the online route to launch their new products, the Taiwanese company remains undecided on it.
“As far as the new products are concerned, only the timing of the launch can be changed. There is an option to launch the phone. Even then the timing has to be right. We will look at both the factors before announcing the launch date,” Dinesh said.
The Asus executive revealed that life has been busier in the lockdown with his entire team working from home now.
“We are busier than before because of these extraordinary circumstances that have been created. We are working from home now. So, the laptop is right in front of you all the time, there is no travelling and you can communicate to your team easily too. While you are in office, somebody keeps coming to meet you. At home, even that distraction is not there. This is a different experience altogether,” he said.
However, when is family is around, distractions will always be there.
“I have young kids and whenever they want to meet me, they enter my room. But by now, they have understood that when I am on call, they should not disturb me,” Dinesh added.
Asked how is he spending his free time, Dinesh said, “I have a very long list of books to read. The mobile IT business is so dynamic that it usually takes up all your time, even on weekends. So, I couldn’t read too much in the recent past. At least now I am spending my time reading books and clearing this backlog.”
Just like most companies, Asus has taken several measures for its employees and customers to tackle the coronavirus outbreak. And, the Taiwanese expertise is only helping it.
“Luckily we are a Taiwanese company and our management had an idea about what could happen in this situation. They guided us and we took measures in time to ensure that all our employees are safe. Even before the lockdown, we have provided our entire staff with masks and sanitisers to ensure that their chances of getting the virus are reduced. We were also conducting regular temperature checks to ensure their safety,” Dinesh explained.
“We are making sure that all our customers do not face any issues. Of course, we cannot run our call centres. But, we are making sure that online mechanisms are functioning properly. We are trying to solve customers’ issues online through email or chat,” he concluded.
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