We’ve recently reported that Asustek Computer, the company behind the Asus smartphone and tablet range (amongst others), is interested in acquiring HTC. The post followed comments from Asus’ Chairman, Johnny Shih, last week during their annual general meeting. It seems that Johnny’s comment, that Asus would not rule out the possibility of buying HTC, caught Asus off guard. Later on, Asustek Computer’s Chief Financial Officer spoke to reporters to say that Johnny Shih had “chatted about the topic internally.” And now HTC have made a statement to the Taiwan stock exchange saying that “[HTC] has not made any contact with Asus regarding this matter, and it will not consider a merger with Asus.” This is about as firm a rejection as they go between rival companies. Of course, just because HT do not wish to merge with Asus, this does not mean that Asus could essentially buy HTC. Whilst Asus have reported that they have no current investment plans in HTC, tomorrow is another day.
Would a merger of HTC and Asus be a great thing? Perhaps. There is some crossover in the smartphone range between these two manufacturers. We might see some cross pollination of ideas between the two brands, or perhaps we would even see HTC Sense renamed to be Asus Sense and the overlay and interface extended over Asus’ ZenFone range of smartphones. However, the two businesses have a different way to approach the same mid-range market. HTC have placed a greater focus on the mid-range market having decided that it is difficult to compete against Apple at the high end: Apple’s reality-distorting illusionary marketing means that many more customers want the iPhone compared with the HTC One range. The One M9 might be the champion device in the HTC range but over the coming months, the business will be hoping that the mid-range devices sell well: the 2015 equivalents of the Desire 820 for example. We’ve seen HTC using Qualcomm and MediaTek processors in an attempt to differentiate the devices for emerging markets. Another part of the HTC offering is Sense software, which attempts to blend performance with usability. In the recent iterations, Sense is smooth, responsive and well featured.
Asus, on the other hand, offer the bargain priced ZenFone 2 range, which for the most part are powered by the Intel Atom processor. These handsets offer a lot of bang for the buck, with the high end model costing under $300 and offering a 2.3 GHz quad core Intel Atom 64-bit processor paired up with 4 GB of RAM and a 1080p 5.5-inch display. The weakness of the ZenFone 2 range appears to be in the software, where whilst the devices are fully featured, the Zen UI interface is somewhat heavy and convoluted. Perhaps Asus have been eyeing up HTC’s Sense software and perhaps any takeover, hostile or amicable, will result in Sense being shared amongst two manufacturers? The question that might be in Asustek’s boardroom is: how much is the brand and software worth?