Asus smartphone coming to U.S. in 2014

Maker of smartphone-tablets and other hybrids readies assault on smartphone market, Asus chairman says

The U.S. smartphone market is about to get more crowded, as Asustek Computer -- maker of the Nexus 7 tablet -- could have an entry as early as 2014.

Asus Chairman Jonney Shih told Ina Fried of the AllThingsD tech news website that the company is developing a smartphone that could be ready for release by 2014.

Shih said Taiwan-based Asus has been building relationships with the U.S. carriers and retailers it needs to succeed in the competitive business.

"For the phone, frankly speaking, we are still latecomers," he told AllThingsD. "We are making progress. I think next year [2014] maybe more reasonable [than this year]."

Asus may be best known for manufacturing Google's first Nexus 7 tablet and the follow-on Nexus 7, which goes on sale today.

Early tech adopters also know Asus for its combination smartphone-tablet device called the Padfone, in which an Android smartphone docks with a larger screen.

Along with the launch of the Padfone in early 2012, Asus announced the Transformer Pad line of three Android tablets, including the Infinity, that dock to a keyboard.

Shih hinted to AllThingsD that the Transformer series is going to get an "even more revolutionary" update.

In June, Asus launched the Transformer Book Trio, which is tablet, laptop and desktop in one.

Asus also makes a Fonepad 7-in. tablet that can make phone calls. In June, it updated the Fonepad with the Fonepad Note FHD6, which is part Android and part 6-in. tablet with a 1920 x 1080 display.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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