As Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform continues to pick up steam and hardware partners, one company has managed to stay out of the Windows Phone game despite their long relationship with Microsoft. Taiwan-based Asus has created developer units for the platform in 2010, and leaks indicate that they haven’t managed to get Microsoft’s mobile platform off their minds.
So with all that said, what on earth is taking the Taiwanese company so long to officially throw their hats into the Windows Phone arena? According to a brief interview with Pocket-Lint, Asus GM of Mobile Devices Benson Lin says it’s only a matter of time. The thing is, it’s been a matter of time for over a year now.
Let’s flash back to MWC 2011 — in an interview with Forbes, Lin mentioned that the company had the ability to launch a line of Windows Phones “but decided to look for the best timing.” They had begun work on their fledgling Windows Phones back in 2009, but ultimately ended up sitting out the platform’s launch because they “didn’t have the bandwidth” for a new cellphone project.
Lin took a similar stance at this year’s Mobile World Congress, where he told Pocket-Lint that they would do it when the time was right. According to him, the company’s strategy is to “focus and focus and focus” before making such a big move.
In fairness, it’s tough to blame Lin for taking the conservative approach here — while Asus is no stranger to the handset market, none of their previous smartphone efforts have caught on in a big way. Their sole model to hit the United States for example, the Asus Garminfone, was plagued by software issues. Certainly not the most auspicious start, but Asus has picked up their share of tricks in the intervening year and a half.
For now, the company is focusing all their attention on the Padfone, a smartphone/tablet hybrid that I got the chance to goof off with at MWC. It’s a novel product, but one whose ambitions may ultimately limit its potential among consumers. It’s got a solid enough spec sheet to be sure, but I seriously doubt anyone will be looking to buy the Padfone phone on its own. The device’s appeal comes into play because of the various suits of armor it can be slotted into — a very cool concept that was ultimately executed better than I’d expected.
Windows Phone could be a welcome outlet for Asus, and if their oddball device ideas are any indication, there’s a fair bit of creativity coursing through their halls. Meanwhile, most Windows Phones have already fallen into the doldrums of design — save for Nokia’s colorful entrants, many are nondescript black or grey monoliths. Microsoft has set forth a stringent list of hardware requirements to help unify the user experience, but those only provide a foundation upon which Asus could build. I don’t doubt that they could bring something interesting to the table, but at this point, the wait is looking like a rough one.