The ASUS Blues

I have a new computer, and I love it. It is an ASUS Zenbook UX31E. It is the notebook I always dreamed of. It is beautiful, light, capable,runs almost seven hours on one battery charge, and sings like a nightingale. It flatters the Mac Book Air by imitation. But that’s all right with me: there are some technical reasons why I prefer a Windows machine over an Apple descendant.

But when I did the research to choose a product that would match my needs, I was surprised about the ambivalence towards ASUS products that I found in various professional product reviews. True, early pre-roll-out models had some significant flaws, but those were remedied, once the Zenbook hit the market. I didn’t initially understand why reviewers were so cool towards what appeared to be a fantastic machine.

But now I do understand. It is not so much the product, as it is the organisation that stands behind it – or doesn’t! I had a simple need for some international ASUS parts that were in production and being delivered routinely in other countries. I first called the national ASUS store to ask for prices and to order. The clerk told me that they don’t stock these parts. I then asked if they could be ordered. The answer was a categorical “NO”! Next, I wrote to the support address; at least, I tried to. Instead, I was presented with an extremely user-unfriendly form which reset itself, whenever the next field was filled in, so you had to start all over again. Two days later I received a compressed, unformatted excerpt of my original message with the laconic comment: call the store. It took me two more iterations before I realized that there was system to the madness: the whole purpose was to keep customers from asking for anything out of the ordinary.

ASUS had made its name largely by producing motherboards for  generic desktop computers. They are relatively new in the business of primary consumer products. But if ASUS, and its CEO Jonney Shih want to succeed in competition with such masters as Apple, it doesn’t suffice that they just imitate the products, they also have to match their service. It may just be an issue of culture. What works in Taiwan will probably not work for western markets in the long run. But, hey, globalisation means that you have to compete along the whole front!

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