Acer to Apple: Don’t Mind Us. We’ll Just Keep Making These “Cheap Laptops.”
“Netbooks aren’t better than anything. They’re just cheap laptops.”
Come summer, Acer will enter the arena for e-book readers, releasing a device with a six-inch monochrome screen. The company will also debut an online applications store from which it will peddle apps for Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows and Windows Mobile operating systems and for Google’s (GOOG) Android platform.
But Acer has no plans to launch a touchscreen tablet to compete with Apple’s (AAPL) new iPad, despite the fact that Chairman J.T. Wang recently told Bloomberg his company was “developing something” along those lines.
Why the sudden change of tack? Acer President Scott Lin says that while the company is entirely capable of building a tablet device, it wouldn’t be worthwhile because it lacks a software ecosystem like Apple’s iTunes App Store. A tablet, Lin, told DigiTimes, does not fit into Acer’s business model.
“Historically, closed platforms are typically limited in terms of scale and are confined to niche markets,” Lin said. “Apple has built its business out of carving its own niche, which means that while Apple could see success with devices like the iPad, other players are unlikely to be able to replicate its result simply by copying.”
An interesting admission, particularly since it seems to openly contradict what Wang said just about a week ago. Of course, at this point, with the iPad not yet released and the tablet market as nascent as it is, Acer’s tentative view of things is understandable. Why mess around with an unestablished, unproven market when the company is doing just fine peddling netbooks and other portables? Better to throw its full weight behind the broad spectrum of notebooks–traditional, ultrathin and netbook–where it’s already quite strong (Lin notes that Acer shipped about 31 million notebooks in 2009).
That said, Acer would do well to keep an eye trained on Apple. Because according to Deutsche Bank (DB), the iPad will give it claim to about seven percent of the low-end computer market by 2011. Said Deutsche Bank’s Chris Whitmore: “We expect the iPad to compete very well against existing low-end notebooks and netbooks, particularly in the segment of the market where surfing, reading, game playing and emailing dominate the usage model.”