Over the course of a slick press event here at CeBIT, Asus boss Jonney Shih laid out the company's vision for the year to come. But, disappointingly, there were comparatively few genuinely new ideas in what appeared to this listener to be primarily a brand-repositioning exercise.
The first item on the agenda, for example, was Shih's discussion of Asus's environmental credentials: Asus notebooks, he said, are "green from the inside out", with renewable bamboo exteriors and Super Hybrid Engine energy-saving motherboards. Both are concepts we've heard from Asus before.
Asus U53 Bamboo laptop
Bamboo laptops, of course, have been an Asus favourite for years. This particular range were unveiled at CES back in January, but bamboo machines were coming out of Asus factories in 2008. The Asus Eee PC S101, meanwhile, had a Super Hybrid Engine as far back as 2008 - although back then the talk was more about increasing battery life than saving 17.2 million trees a year (the apparent result of building 10 million EPU-enabled motherboards).
High-end lifestyle branding
The longest segment of today's presentation was devoted to Asus's work with Bang & Olufsen designer David Lewis to come up with a high-end audio notebook. The Asus NX90, which Shih excitedly noted has speakers outside of the product, a polished aluminium chassis and two touch pads, is not exactly new either, having been shown off at CES in January. The 18in-screen NX90 will ship in May, and we understand it will cost under £2,000.
Asus made the most of the Bang & Olufsen connection. The arty-looking Lewis (imagine what Derek Jacobi would look like if he worked for Apple) was brought up on stage to meanderingly discuss his thought processes during the design of the laptop series. The implication was clear: yes, the Eee PC was a massive success, but we're not just a cut-price netbook company. We can do luxury branding too. We've got name designers on our team. We can use polished aluminium with the best of them.
Too much success
Asus was around before the Eee PC, and one would imagine it will be here after the netbook craze has come and gone. The problem is that the non-techy computer buyer on the street - a creature who has become more and more important to computer makers as he (or she) has grown comfortable about spending money on tech products - associates Asus entirely with PCs that cost a couple of hundred quid.
And, since pretty much everything unveiled today was covered at CES, one is left with the impression that today's themes - stylish bamboo laptops, Bang & Olufsen audio, 3D graphics and hardcore gaming - were chosen because they're the opposite of the bargain-basement image Asus has acquired.