Acer President Jim Wong: Our Focus is on x86 Devices, not ARM

Acer President Jim Wong sat down with Digitimes a few days ago and gave an interview on the state of the PC market and Acer’s strategy going forward.

Here are several takeaways from his interesting interview:

Too Early to deem Windows 8 a failure
Wong believes that the late release of Windows 8 in the middle of the fourth quarter, makes any determination of its success or failure premature. Most vendors, including Acer, were left with a limited window of time to develop and promote such systems over the holidays.

Acer will focus on Windows 8 on x86 Systems
It is clear from his interview that Acer plans to focus on x86-based Windows 8 systems i.e., Windows 8 Pro, rather than Windows RT, as he sees the major demand from users being in that area. Specifically, he said;

…although Acer has a plan to release Windows RT-based products, the company’s current strategy is to focus on Windows 8 with x86 architecture since the major demand from Windows users is still related to data management

Windows 8 has a steep learning curve and will take time for users to learn
Wong insists that Windows 8 is an example of Microsoft’s innovation and that the OS, with its steeper learner curve, will require time for users to learn. However, Acer’s internal research, he insists, show that once users use a touchscreen for a while, they expect that capability of any display they encounter. Acer, he notes, has invested experience centers in Asia to educate users on Windows 8 and Acer’s offerings.

Touchscreen notebooks will replace traditional ones
The Acer President also believes that over time, touchscreen notebooks will crowd out traditional ones to satisfy demand. He notes the higher costs of touchscreens will however slow the replacement time to 2 or 3 years. He expressed some surprise at Apple’s reluctance to deploy touchscreen models.

Acer will focus on mind share, not market share
Wong concluded by saying that Acer’s strategy going forward would be a focus on mind share, not market share. In other words, we assume, Acer will avoid crashing price for temporary expansion of market share. He said;

Acer is now no longer that eager to pursue market share expansion, and instead of seeking sharp growth each and every year, Acer is now eyeing sustainable and long-term stable performance. For a brand vendor to maintain stable market share, it must start from raising its “mind share,” which means winning consumers’ trust.

The cynics may think this is just recognition of Lenovo’s market leadership plus a desire not to compete with China’s ‘white box’ cut-price PC makers.

Interestingly, Wong sees Dell and HP focusing more on services, given the slowdown in the PC market and slim margins, leaving opportunities for Acer, Asustek and Lenovo, whose core business is the PC. However, the major takeaway is that Acer sees itself as a premiere brand and will focus on higher margins, not market share. It is easy to see how this strategy has worked for one company named Apple.

Real the full interview here. What do you think of Wong’s read of the Windows 8 and PC market?

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