Asus chairman Jonney Shih says his company is working hard on a phone that could potentially come to the US by 2014. In an interview with All Things D, Shih admitted that "for the phone, frankly speaking, we are still the latecomers," though Asus was getting closer to changing that. Asked about whether a phone might see US release in 2013, Shih suggested a later date: "I think next year is more reasonable." Asus is known for producing the transforming PadFone, a smaller phone that docked into a larger tablet, but it's also created the giant, tablet-like FonePad and a somewhat smaller counterpart. Shih didn't, however, give any hints as to what we could see stateside.

None of Asus' phones have been particularly successful, and neither the PadFone nor the FonePad ever made it to the US, though its Garminfone was picked up by T-Mobile. While the company broke into mainstream consumer sales with the EeePC line of netbooks and the convertible Transformer tablets, its best-known device probably remains the more conventional Nexus 7, produced in partnership with Google.

Since then, it's expanded on the small tablet model, but Asus' wild experiments apparently aren't through. Last month, the company announced the Transformer Book Trio — an Android- and Windows-based combination of laptop, tablet, and desktop — and Shih says that "I think we are going to have something even more revolutionary for this series" in the future. But he also seems to recognize how strange they are: All Things D reports that he was "pleasantly surprised" to see people using the 7-inch FonePad as, well, a phone.