Acer looks to tablets, Chrome to topple HP


Acer is planning an aggressive line of new products for 2010 in a bid to topple world computing leader HP - including Chrome-based netbooks.

Having outsold Dell in the second half of 2009 to become the world's second biggest PC brand, Acer's product plans for 2010 include tablet PC and e-reader ranges, as well as Chrome OS-based netbooks and an Acer app store later in the year.

The bold roadmap was revealed by Acer IT products president Jim Wong in an interview with Bloomberg. Wong believes that its diverse product plans and consolidation in existing markets will see it overtaking HP by 2013.

And with the world awaiting the arrival of the Apple tablet tomorrow, it turns out Acer is too. "It's going to be a big-screen iPhone," Wong predicted. "The content can be bigger, more graphic, with more video and text, but they are going to duplicate a successful model."

In separate comments, Wong confirmed that Apple's device "will provide inspiration for Acer's own product lineup".

"We're developing something, and we will see what happens," he added. "We're going to work either in the Windows world or in Google's defined OS space."

Wong also confirmed a six inch monochrome Acer e-reader for a mid-year launch in five European countries. That's around the time many are expecting to see the cross-platform app store to support both the reader, the tablet device and of course Acer's existing armada of web-enabled products, with "hundreds" of affordable or free apps for Windows Mobile, Android and (later) Chrome.

He said that the first Chrome-run netbooks will only arrive in the second half of the year, but from then on will make up "at least 10 per cent" of its netbook product line.

"For Chrome, we're aggressively pursuing to become one of the first, so there's a change to the Microsoft-Intel environment," Wong commented, which could be taken as a suggestion that a switch from Intel to ARM processors - and most likely the new A9 chips is on the cards too.

In addition to its ambitious product release schedule, Wong also hinted at the possibility of Acer shoring up its position in the Chinese and Japanese markets through local acquisitions as it did in Europe in 2008 when it swallowed up Packard Bell and Gateway.

In the fourth quarter of last year, Acer's 11.4 million units shipped saw it ease past Dell for the first time, though it still trailed over the whole year by around a million units, and was short some 22 million units off HP's market-leading position.