After eight generations, the launch of the ASUS Zenfone phones in Australia earlier this year caught us by surprise – but it was a pleasant one for a series of phones that have been drawing positive attention for a long time.

The ASUS Zenfone 8 and Zenfone 8 Flip are now on-sale in Australia through JB Hifi alongside the powerful ROG Phone 5 which also launched this year. I spoke with ASUS Country Manager Emma Ou about the launch of the Zenfone series in Australia, how it’s gone and what the plans are for the future of both the ROG and Zenfone series in Australia.

We’ve been hearing about these great ZenFone mobiles for so long. Why did it take so long for ASUS to decide to bring the ZenFone to Australia?

Okay. I think first of all, we all know Australians mobile market is really competitive, so we did a lot surveying and understanding of the local market before we bring in this product line. So in this region, we have been building some of the legion of fans of past few years, by re-launching the innovative [products], like ZenBook and our ROG series of product. So now we feel being recognised by the local audience for our innovation and technology. Now we are confident to take a one step up into a smartphone segment, so this is why we are launching ZenFone at this moment

Okay, that’s fair enough. So basically the focus for ASUS has been on the ROG phones for a while. There’s a great line of laptops. The ROG brand is very well known. Is the ZenFone going to be taking any focus from the ROG phones, or anything like that?

ROG phone was the main one of the key focus, because the whole ROG product line, from desktop to laptop to mobile devices, this is to complete whole gamers journey without any performance compensation. So ROG phone was the only really a very strategic rope in the ROG product line.

But for ZenFone, ZenFone I would say is an important product for us in Australian market, since this one allows us to speak to a wider range of audience, and bring ASUS branding into more lifestyle, but yet with a lot of innovative features.

One of the big things about the ZenFone series, is that it’s a compact phone- which is not something we see these days. We get these very big, broad and very tall phones. Whereas the ZenFone 8 is more compact. What was the idea behind the strategy of aiming for the compact range in Australia?

Okay, ah, we feel the compact sector has the largest room to grow within the smartphone category. So I think our ZenFone is only,169 grams, so it’s really small and light, with a lot of power and premium features. So without any performance compensation with such a small pocket-size phone. So I think this one presents great value for our end users.

It’s obviously working really well, because it’s a very nice phone to actually hold in the hand, and the ZenFone Flip actually adds that nice little camera flip at the top, which is very great to have, that rear camera actually flip over to the front, and you get great selfies and stuff like that.

Zenfone 8 is marketed in the mid-higher end range. It’s not the highest, highest end in the market, but it’s very well priced with the features. Is that the sort of market that ASUS is aiming for, that sort of $1,000 sort of range in that sort of category? Is that where they’re going to be competing from now on?

I would say yes. This is the second one we would like to… we would like to tackle and focus. And the, thinking behind this one, is that we would like to offer innovation and good technology that fits our Australian customers needs.

So from our observation, even though a lot of economy is uncertain, but we still feel Australian that they are looking for something is really can bring the extra value or benefit into their life, to improve their day-to-day efficiency. So this is why we always position our product, and sell the product that it really can fulfill the needs for the local market.

So what’s the next plan for ASUS over the next 12 months? Like I mean we’ve got the ROG Phone 5 just came out a bit earlier. We’ve got the ZenFone 8, what have we got coming up? Are we just concentrating on ZenFone 8 for now?

Okay, our phone product lifecycle is about six months to one year, so definitely in the next six, 12 months, you will see a new product coming out. But for now, it’s our ROG phone or ZenFone, but definitely we will have new products introduced to the market.

One of the things I do like with phones, is accessories. So when I buy a new phone, I like to have the best cases on it, the best bits and pieces. Is ASUS going to be working with any manufacturers for accessories to broaden the scope of accessories that are available for the ZenFone series, and also like the ROG phone as well?

Yep, yep, yep.We have various experience working with accessory brands world-wide, so this is definitely something we will open to Australian market too. So we want to provide the best package to our customers, so you can see from like our ROG phone, we offer comprehensive accessory range to accommodate all the gamers needs. For ZenFone, yes, this is one of our key strategies as well.

Getting ZenFone into the hands of customers, what’s the plan with telcos, because a lot of the people in Australia will buy a phone on contract through a telco? Is there plans to move into that sort of space, to offer the phone there?

Okay, yep, I think this is a very good question. So definitely telco partnership is really important for us, and they play a very strategic role in the market. For now, actually, we are really happy with the co-operation and partnership with JB HiFi, at the moment, so they are our exclusive partner to sell ZenFone and our ROG phone, right. So it’s also the first year we offer ZenFone in the Australian market, so we will keep a close eye, on the eco system, so yeah, maybe.

That’s fair enough, yeah. So obviously the sales have been going pretty well, and hopefully, we get a follow-up next year, and see what else ASUS has to offer. But for now, is there anything you’d like to tease for coming up in the next 12 months at all? Or we have to wait and see?

Ah, we have to wait and see, but what I can mention is that, every generation of our product no matter if it is a laptop or a smartphone – we will definitely have something wow for our audience.

You can check out the ASUS Zenfone 8 and Zenfone 8 Flip through the ASUS website or check out the full review of the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip here on EFTM.