Interview: Acer looks toward the future

Acer: from entry-level to high-end



The CES event is a great place for getting an insight into the latest industry developments, in addition to seeing the newest products in the areas of consumer electronics, computer hardware, mobile phones and photography. Hardware.Info sat down with Jerry Kao, Acer Associate Vice President.

We have witnessed an evolution of Acer over the past few years. Initially known for making entry-level products at affordable prices, more recently the company set its sights on the high-end segment. An example of this is the Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook. It’s a low-weight,  ultra-thin notebook with a Full HD touchscreen that’s available in both 11 inches and 13 inches. The following paraphrases a Dutch interview between Hardware.Info and Jerry Kao.

Jerry Kao: “One of the most important developments of the past two years is a change in Acer’s business strategy. In the past we were primarily focused on capturing as much market share as possible. Now we are emphasising a balance between market share and ‘mind share’. Before we concentrated on the pricing of our products, and on creating products that gave consumers the most value for their money.

PCs have changed a lot over the past few years, and in order to stay competitive Acer is investing more in innovation. We want to ‘WOW’ our consumers with our products, we want them to relate to our products. Acer has been active in the market for more than 30 years, and wants to use technology to get closer to the consumer. Our new slogan ‘Explore the limits’ embodies that goal. We want the consumer to be the focus of our products, instead of just, as in the past, releasing products from Microsoft, Intel and our other suppliers. We want to create products that fill a need for consumers. We also want to create products that create new needs, because consumers don’t always know what they want.

The transition away from the traditional definition and shape of computers and laptops is a rapid one. How is Acer adapting to this?

“We are developing traditional desktops and notebooks, but also smartphones, tablets and much more. The products are converging. You now have 7-inch tablets like our own Iconia B1, but you also have 6.5-inch phones. The future will tell what the definition of a tablet and smartphone will be. But a more important question is finding out what the consumer actually wants.  The Iconia B1, for example, is intended for consumers that have never used a tablet before. “

Sometimes Acer introduces unique products as well. The Iconia Duo, for example, was an expensive and heavy laptop with two touchscreens.

Kao: “This was an important product. We knew beforehand that it would be too advanced, too heavy and too expensive. But it allowed us to spend time on the interface and also to understand how people use these types of products. We were therefore able to (further) develop our special, user-friendly interface including the Touch Ring. It formed the foundation for the current interface in products like the Aspire S7 Ultrabook. By the way, the S7 reacts faster to touch than the iPad.”

Acer makes products with various operating systems - Windows, Android, ChromeOS and in Asia also Linux. How do you see the future?

“That depends on what the consumer wants. For 399 dollars we could sell a bare-bones Windows laptop, but also a fully-featured Android tablet. The consumer determines what he or she wants and needs.”

And lastly, what are your thoughts on Windows RT? “Windows RT still has a long way to go, but in the end it will prove to be a success.”

Jerry Kao, Associate Vice President

Also read these laptop/tablet articles on Hardware.Info

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