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September 11, 1997


The Y2K deadline

AST has a strategy to be India's #1 PC vendor by 2000

AST Computers has drawn up an extensive strategy to become the country's top multinational personal computer vendor by the turn of the century.

The company has decided to follow a market penetration pricing strategy to increase sales volume. It has defined its target as 'anybody who can afford to pay Rs 40,000 for a personal computer'.

To achieve higher sales, AST plans to expand its marketing channels. The company currently has four direct resellers and over 110 channel partners spread over 40 locations. In addition, it has a wide network of authorised service providers.

The company's Middle East Director-Sales and Marketing Ilyas Haider Baig has said that the company has already shortlisted about 10 resellers in India who may be appointed as channel partners for selling AST computers.

He added that the company expects to appoint some of these resellers as channel partners by November.

Currently, Tata Infotech Limited, Advanced Micronic Devices, PCS Industries and CMS Computers are working with AST as its authorised direct sellers.

The company is also working on ways to increase price performance of its products to make them more attractive to customers. For this, the company has developed a new manufacturing system under which the base units will be assembled for customers on a build-to-order basis by installing the requested memory, hard disk, operating systems and other peripheral components.

Baig said that AST expected to corner 20 per cent of market for multinational personal computer brands by the end of 1998. Independent surveys of the information technology industry have reported that AST is one of the fastest growing multinational brands in India.

As per the DQ Top 20 Survey, AST sold 12,600 personal computers worth Rs 703 million in 1996-97. HP India, in contrast, sold only 11,930 personal computers during the same period.

In 1997-98, the company expects to record about 30-35 per cent growth in its sales volume, Baig added.

Meanwhile, in Irvine, the California-headquartered parent company, AST Research Inc, has decided to upgrade its liaison office in New Delhi to a branch office of AST Middle East Limited next month.

By June 1998, the company expects to further upgrade the outfit to a subsidiary office.

AST Research is now a wholly owned subsidiary of South Korean $25 billion Samsung Electronics. The take-over and merger was completed on August 11.

The merger, notwithstanding, AST will continue to retain its own identity and brand names worldwide. AST will remain headquatered in California though a Samsung veteran, S T Kim, will head the operations globally.

At a press conference recently, AST President for Asia Pacific and Middle East Hoon Choo said "We have traditionally been a market leader in this region and the merger with Samsung Electronics will ensure our competitive edge in this fast growing market."

Worldwide, AST is targeting to be among the top five PC manufacturers by 2005. To accomplish this, the company's short and long term activities will focus on more aggressive development and selling of desktop, notebook and server systems targeted at both large corporations and small to medium sized businesses.

The company will be doubling its research and development spending by 1999 and quadruple it by 2001. A host of new products are also due for launch in the next few months including modem incorporated notebooks.

Samsung and AST will also take up research activities jointly.

- Compiled from the Indian media

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