High profitability, low investment barriers and the growth potential of the clone (assembly) market, were the initial stages of the Taiwan motherboard industry, from which emerged the phenomenon of many small factories. Having the advantage of R&D strength, on-time delivery, excellent quality, and low prices, the Taiwan motherboard makers became the main contract manufacturers of globally well-known companies. Taiwan's motherboard industry has rapidly grown from 68% of the worldwide market in 1992 to 90% of the worldwide market in 2003.
After 1997, low priced computers (less than US$1000) became mainstream on the computer market. Motherboard makers needed economies of scale in order to receive OEM orders, at the same time, the clone market shrunk gradually. The motherboard industry has continuously shrunk because of stiff competition from approximately 300 independent manufacturers to only 20 now. Asus, Gigabyte, MSI and ECS are the four largest players and cover more than 50% of the market. As the industry developed, the trend of “big becomes bigger” took hold of the market.
AsusTek Computer was founded in 1989. Four engineers from Acer Corporation joined efforts to establish the company. Based on continuous product innovation and excellent quality as its competitive advantage and flexible managerial strategy; AsusTek is a valued motherboard manufacturer and important testing partner for Intel.
The Growing Stages
Looking back over the 15-year history and development of AsusTek, there were 3 distinct stages, the first 5 years, AsusTek insisted not to do OEM (contract manufacturing) and as a principle, all products were sold under AsusTek’s own brands, which it independently developed. Furthermore, no production per single client was to exceed 5% of the total revenue. This was one of the reasons AsusTek was not affected by the “Intel Storm” (Intel was once involved in motherboard manufacturing). At the same time, AsusTek collaborated with market leaders of different regions; it did not use a worldwide branding strategy, and this enabled it to deeply penetrate various markets. In order to control quality, improve technology and perfect “just-in-time” manufacturing, AsusTek did not move investments or production overseas.
The next 5 years, AsusTek established an industrial design team to launch its own brand of notebook computer and actively moved towards product diversification. Through existing marketing channels AsusTek then moved into the notebook computer, server and CD-ROM drive markets. In order to leverage shared brands, they used R&D and manufacturing resources to create economics of scope. AsusTek setup its manufacturing base at Suzhou, China in order to tap into the great potential of the domestic Chinese market.
Entering into the third 5-year phase of AsusTek's history, the company put great emphasis on high technology and high-end products within the computer market. The company however faced several threats, including its growth, which unfortunately reduced its strategic development and ability to adapt quickly to market forces. Firstly, their product line planning followed Intel's “Non hole Strategy”, which launched a secondary brand “Wach”, and adopted a complete cover of the market strategy with high, medium and low prices. AsusTek had hoped through expanded markets, they could foster an environment of economies of scale, thus enhancing competitiveness.
AsusTek also went to China to expand its capacity, and launched several product lines, including; notebook computers, PDA’s, VGA cards, CD-ROM drives, as well as communications devices and 3C products. All their products were under the Asus brand name in hopes of winning a price niche within the very segmented computer market. Also, AsusTek had production extensions in Mexico and the Czech Republic. By setting up manufacturing facilities to carry out system assembly and management activities in the Czech Republic, AsusTek further prepared itself for expansion into European markets.
（Peng, Yu-Shu, Assistant Professor, Graduate In-stitute of International Business, National Dong Hwa University Joseph Yu, Professor, Department of Busi-ness Adminstration, National Chengchi University）