Acer's Recovery Plan: Hardware--Better, Faster, Stronger

By Steve Anderson January 13, 2014

It's a philosophy that might be better suited to a Daft Punk album, but for Acer, it makes quite a bit of sense as the company looks to turn around its fortunes following the posting of a third consecutive annual loss. With the overall PC market in contraction, with the emergence of several new competing platforms like the tablet and smartphone markets, and with a whole lot working against it, Acer's plan is to go after the dwindling PC market with new vigor, renewed fervor, and much more powerful hardware to match its competitive advantages, as well as build new ones.

New CEO Jason Chen—despite having been on the job less than two weeks—has a plan in mind, and the two words to describe it are “operational excellence.” With terrible market conditions for PCs, and Acer coming off the worst of the top five PC vendors—sales volume was down fully 28 percent year over year—the company is still shrugging off plenty of mistakes mostly related to timing. The company put substantial investment in touchscreen technology and ultrabooks back before the market had really coalesced.

But now, Acer is putting extra strength behind a new, but simpler concept: make better hardware, and offer more useful software. The whole thing is set to kick off April 1, when Acer releases its new Build Your Own Cloud service, and will likely continue as Acer puts to work its stake in PC home Online Inc.'s online payments system, as well as planned development in fields like video and photography, as well as mail and even some “...other things we haven't even seen yet.” Though sales are down, which is never really good news, the company is actually planning increased spending in the fields of both marketing and research and development.

Chen noted that specifics on the plan wouldn't be forthcoming for a while yet, and wasn't saying if the company planned to put more weight to marketing or to research and development, but the plan is comparatively clear, and logically sound.

There are still, after all, a host of uses for PCs. From the hobbyist to the enterprise-level users, from the telecommuter to the gamer, from the home theater PC to the basic educational tool, the “post-PC era” we've all been promised for some time likely won't come about for several years to come. The PC is still an extremely versatile tool that brings a lot of power to the user. It plays games, shows movies, builds databases, crunches spreadsheets and so on, and while tablets and smartphones are starting to gain ground on these fields, there's still a long way to go before a smartphone can replace the PC.

With that gap in mind, it stands to reason that the more innovating the PC market can do, the more likely it is to preserve its markets even as smartphones and tablets increasingly enter the larger overall market. Acer's plan may not save the PC industry—who knows what that R&D will come up with?--but it's likely to at least buy Acer time to properly consider its next move, and that's nothing to sneeze at. Even as Acer looks to recover its PC fortunes, it's already been seen at CES moving harder into tablets, so we may well be looking at not only today's moves, but tomorrow's as well.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

Contributing TechZone360 Writer

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