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May 30, 2017

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Asus delays launch of 4th-generation ZenFone handset

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Asus has rescheduled the launch of its fourth-generation ZenFone smart phones to mid-2017 because of component shortages, the company's CEO Jerry Shen disclosed Wednesday.

Shen said the company originally planned to launch the new smart phone series in April or May, but shortages of LCD displays and DRAM prompted it to reschedule the release for June or July.

The delayed launch is expected to undermine Asus's profitability in the first half of 2017, according to market analysts cited by the Central News Agency.

But Shen, speaking at the company's investors' conference, said the fourth-generation ZenFone series would drive the shipment growth for the company's smart phones this year.

Shen declined to confirm whether the new phones would come equipped with wireless charging or water-resistance, but said that Asus would add new features and functions to its devices.

Asked if the new launch schedule for the ZenFone would face head-on competition with iPhone 8, which is expected to be released in the second half of the year, Shen said that Apple's phones belonged to the extremely high-end segment of the market and should have little impact on Asus's smart phones.

The CEO also said the company was confident in the expected sales performance for the ZenFone 3 Zoom, ZenFone AR and other new smartphones to be launched in the first quarter of 2017.

He disclosed that Asus would launch an entry-level ZenFone 3 Go and ZenFone 3 Max, the former targeting the under-NT$5,000 price segment, and the latter the NT$5,000 to NT$7,000 range.

Shen said the two entry-level devices would help drive the company's smart phone shipment growth.

The CNA cited market analysts as estimating that the Taiwan-based vendor would see a 15 percent quarterly decline in first-quarter 2017 consolidated revenues, with operating margins remaining at about 4 percent.

Its mobile phone business would be able to make a profit in the first quarter, but sales momentum would weaken in the second quarter due to a lack of market stimulation from new products, the analysts said, adding that Asus's mobile phone business will only break even in the first half of 2017.

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