Asustek Computer, a company mostly known for its notebooks and advanced computer components, plans to enter the U.S. smartphone market within a year from now. Moreover, currently the company is in talks with Microsoft Corp. over Windows Phone 8 platform licensing. Interestingly, but Asus wants to install a Microsoft operating system onto its hybrid Padfone smartphone/tablet devices as well.
Benson Lin, corporate vice president of mobile-communication products at Asustek, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that the Taiwanese company is negotiating with U.S. telecommunications operators with a goal of introducing its phones in the U.S. by next year. What is truly remarkable is that Asus is looking forward to install a Windows operating system onto its Padfone-series hybrid products.
"With our Padfone concept, the phone plus tablet, I think it makes sense for Windows 8. There is no target timeline, but we are interested in making Windows phones,” said Mr. Lin.
Asus Padfone is an innovative concept that ties a smartphone and a tablet together. The smartphone integrates application processor, wireless functionality, memory and other electronics, whereas the tablet is called “Padfone station” and only includes a screen and an additional battery. The recently announced Asus Padfone 2 is based on quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro application processor (four ARM Krait cores [hybrid between Cortex-A9 and Cortex-A15], Adreno 320 graphics core, dual-channel LPDDR2 memory controller) and Google Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" operating system.
Installing a Windows operating system onto Asus Padfone hybrid device could be tricky and result into either the world’s first smartphone running Windows RT operating system (in case Asus decided to stick to ARM system-on-chip or the industry’s first tablet running Windows Phone 8. Microsoft strictly positions its operating systems, unlike Google, therefore, it is unclear which operating system should actually be used on the Asus Padfone hybrids.
In fact, the Padfone could only be a halo device designed to show Asustek’s ability to develop smartphones. Back in the days, Asus made personal digital assistants (with or without support for GSM/3G) powered by Windows Mobile operating system, but they have never been popular. In a bid to enjoy the rapid growth of the smartphone market, Asustek needs to start from scratch and its current negotiations with the U.S. operators signal that the firm is ready to go from the hardware point of view and only needs to ensure sales channels.