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Asustek plans to sell robot 'Zenbo' in China late September

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan-based PC brand Asustek Computer Inc. (華碩) said on Wednesday that it plans to start selling its home robot "Zenbo" in China at the end of September after the gadget hit the Taiwan market earlier this year.

At an annual shareholder meeting held in Taipei, Asustek Chairman Jonney Shih (施崇棠) said that Zenbo attracted a lot of attention from international visitors to the May 30-June 3 Computex Taipei 2017, one of the largest ICT exhibitions in the world.

Shih added that an executive from a Chinese high-tech heavyweight software developer spent more than an hour at Asustek's display area checking out the Zenbo robot.

After the launch in China, Shih added, Asustek is also planning to sell robot Zenbo in the U.S. next year.

Asustek unveiled Zenbo on May 30 during Computex Taipei 2016 in an effort to diversify its product portfolio and generate more sales revenue in the wake of a slowdown in the global PC market.

The home robot hit the Taiwan market earlier this year after Asustek launched pre-order sales in January. The first 168 units sold out in five minutes after pre-order sales started on Jan. 1.

Zenbo operates on two wheels and its main body resembles a Dyson vacuum-cleaner ball. The head is an oblong-shaped camera with a color touchscreen that displays a face capable of showing emotion.

The robot is able to assist seniors by reminding them of medical appointments and when they need to take their medicine, while keeping children entertained, according to Asustek.

Asustek describes Zenbo as "a smart home manager, security guard, hands-free kitchen assistant and family photographer."

While Asustek declined to disclose sales details in the Taiwan market, the only market where the robot is on sale, the company said the robot has been well received by local consumers. The standard version of the Zenbo with a 32G memory capacity is price at NT$19,900 and an upgraded 128G version at NT$24,900.

At the shareholder meeting, a proposal was approved for Asustek to issue NT$17 in cash dividend per share with the company's earnings per share at NT$25.85 for 2016, representing a dividend payout ratio of about 0.66 percent.

In 2016, Asustek posted NT$19.2 billion in net profit, up 12 percent from a year earlier, while its consolidated sales fell 1 percent from a year earlier to NT$466.8 billion.

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