MSI sets sights on UAE notebook market growth

Alan Chu, regional sales director, Middle East and Africa for MSI on how the company plans to increase it’s focus on the UAE notebook market

Tags: MSI (Micro Star International Co. Ltd.)
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MSI sets sights on UAE notebook market growth
By  Mark Sutton Published  March 9, 2011

Alan Chu, regional sales director, Middle East and Africa for MSI on how the company plans to increase it’s focus on the UAE notebook market.

CME: You are expanding MSI’s notebook business into the region, tell us more.

Alan Chu: MSI came into the notebook PC business approximately five years ago, before that we were known as one of the leading companies in designing and manufacturing mainboards for desktops, also graphics cards and servers. We started our notebook business in the Middle East approximately two to three years ago, we have seen acceptable results in countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and parts of Africa.

We haven’t really been doing too much in the UAE, because we thought that a lot of companies are doing re-exports; now we have a different idea about the UAE, so we will put in more resources, and we have a pretty strong line up of notebooks now, including netbooks, so I think we are ready to come into this market.

CME: How are you going to address this market, are you looking for channel partners or retailers?

Alan Chu: In the UAE, we believe that 60-70% of the market is with retailers, like Plug Ins or Carrefour, so these big guys, we have to find ways to work really closely with them. Fortunately our distributor in the UAE, Grand Stores, already has long established relationships with these companies, so I think it will not be too hard [to increase presence].

CME: Are there particular retail segments you are targeting?

Alan Chu: We only have mainstream to high end notebooks, not including the netbooks, which are generally entry level.

CME: What sort of target do you have for UAE market share?

Alan Chu: Overall UAE market we hope to have 3% this year; within the retail space, hopefully we can reach up to 5%.

CME: What will you do to support growth in the UAE market?

Alan Chu: Definitely we have to arrange a lot special funds for things like Gitex; at the moment we rely on our exclusive distributor, and definitely we will be doing more training for them, including sales training and training for promoters.

CME: What sort of period are you aiming to get that 3-5% share?

Alan Chu: I think it will be around the third quarter that we will start to see this sort of result.

CME: In terms of development of the notebook segment, we’ve seen a lot of tablets coming out, often at the expense of netbooks, how do you see the market developing?

Alan Chu: We have our WindPad tablet, it is Windows and Intel-based, and pretty soon we will have a ten-inch, Android-based device. The pad business, compared to the netbook business would probably be 15% compared to 85% for netbooks, overall, it is less than 5% of our business. In the UAE, we have started to ship the WindPad from this month, and we also have interest from Jarir Bookstore in Saudi, they are very interested and have ordered some units.

CME: Where does WindPad position against something like the iPad?

Alan Chu: Price would be around AED1,400 ($381), so that is a lot cheaper than the iPad, and it has more functions, like more USB ports, for example.

CME: Do you expect pad to become a significant part of the business?

Alan Chu: We would think that the WindPad business overall, globally, will be 5% maximum.

CME: What do you have coming up in the regular notebook range?

Alan Chu: For our notebooks, we have three series, like the G series, for gaming, the F series for fashion, and our classic series, the entry-to-mainstream level. The Classic series we are offering through Sharaf DG, and the F we will also be bringing to the market.

CME: What sort of feedback have you got from retailers in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait?

Alan Chu: Those two countries, we really have very good promoters, who can really tell the users what is different about MSI, and we have pretty good looks on our notebooks and netbooks.

CME: How is the business aside from the retail channels, and what are you doing for your reseller channels in the Middle East?

Alan Chu: Apart from the retail business, the traditional channels still play a very important role for other parts of this region, for example Lebanon or Jordan - we have good exposure in Jordan.

Most importantly, we have to guarantee their profits, and we are also proud that we have maintained very, very good quality, just as we did for our mainboards and graphics cards.

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