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Company hopes that ultrabooks are the answer to its sales woes

Taiwan's Acer Inc. (TPE:2353) is sick and tired of making "cheap" products.  It lusts for the kind sleek designs that highly profitable American computermaker Apple, Inc. (AAPL) produces.

Acer CEO J.T. Wang was blunt when he remarked, "We will shift our strategy to improving profitability from pursuing market share blindly with cheap and unprofitable products."

The candid rhetoric is a sharp departure from that of company founder Stan Shih who in 2010 fielded such wild opinions as stating that Acer's products were so cheap they would put Dell, Inc. (DELL) and Hewlett-Packard Comp. (HPQ) out of business in 20 years and that Apple was a "mutant virus" that would go the way of "Betamax".  At the time Acer had just stolen the number two spot in global sales from Dell.

However, since then it's been all downhill for the firm.  It began to post losses, its CEO was forced to resign, and suddenly "cheap" was perceived in a whole new light.  Suddenly Acer began to aspire to be more like Apple -- a premium vendor with large margins.

In 2011, the situation has progressively deteriorated for Acer, despite its change in attitude.  Tablet sales passed netbook sales -- Acer's traditional sales driver.  Acer had prepared for this launching an Android tablet, but this first crack at the tablet market proved a relative flop, forcing it to cut sales estimates almost in half.

Recent estimates on global PC sales show Acer shedding nearly 20 percent of its U.S. and 10 percent of its global market share, falling to fifth place in the U.S. and fourth place globally in PC sales (excluding tablets).

Acer feels that by focusing on good battery life, a thin design, and light weight it will be able to return to sales success.  The culmination of all those characteristics is "ultrabook" a class of PCs first introduced by HP's "Envy" and Apple's MacBook Air luxury designs back in 2008.  Officially the term "ultrabook" comes from chipmaker Intel Corp. (INTC) and has a strict set of hardware quality requirements for use.  

Mr. Wang comments, "Selling more ultrabooks will also help improve our profit margins as they command higher prices."

Acer's first ultrabook, the Aspire S3-951, went on sale on Oct. 10, 2011.  The 13-inch design is remarkably similar in look to the MacBook Air, complete with a thin metal shell case.  It's currently retailing for as low as $870 USD from, Inc. (AMZN), compared $1,290 USD for the cheapest 13-inch MacBook Air.
Acer Aspire S3-951

If all goes according to plan, Acer hopes to halt the losses and grow 10 percent in 2012.  But to do that, it argues, it must stop selling "cheap" junk.

Source: WSJ

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Should be possible
By lightfoot on 12/8/2011 4:10:13 PM , Rating: 2
Focus on two areas:

Fit and finish - create a solid well build functional design.

No bloatware - ABSOLUTELY NO BLOATWARE. If any PC manufacturer sold a PC with a CLEAN install of Windows, they would forever have my business.

This shouldn't be that hard - I can't understand why noone else has tried it. So long as PC manufacturers continue to preload a ton of junkware on their machines, they will NEVER be able to compete with Apple.

RE: Should be possible
By inighthawki on 12/8/11, Rating: -1
RE: Should be possible
By Ringold on 12/8/2011 5:44:57 PM , Rating: 3
Advanced users can't use Windows? Guess all the developers that live on it are noobs.

Sorry, focusing on something that might interest 1% of the population doesn't sound like a way to move the needle for a large multinational.

RE: Should be possible
By Alexstarfire on 12/9/2011 2:12:05 PM , Rating: 2
Where in the hell did you get that from? Your ass? He said nothing of the sort.

His point was that some people might not want to pay for an extra Windows license, either because they don't want Windows or because they already own a copy of Windows. If you shipped a computer without an OS I'd say it's probably for advanced users since several of the people I know can't even install a program properly.

Of course, IDK how much you'd really save by not getting a license. I've heard they are very small part of the cost of a computer but I have no way of confirming or denying that.

RE: Should be possible
By inighthawki on 12/9/2011 6:28:06 PM , Rating: 2
Did you stop reading as soon as I said the word Linux?

How your post is "worth reading" (and mine is "not worth reading") is completely beyond me, considering you responded to something I never even said.

There's also no need to "focus" on anything. Simply allow the option of "No OS" under the set of options when you build the PC online. Right under all of the other choices for various versions of Windows. Why would this be hard to do?

RE: Should be possible
By kleinma on 12/8/2011 5:30:50 PM , Rating: 2
There is a company that does sell PCs without all the crappy bloatware that 3rd parties pay PC makers to include. The company is not well known for selling PCs though. The company is Microsoft.

RE: Should be possible
By TakinYourPoints on 12/8/2011 6:42:43 PM , Rating: 2
Oh wtf, that really needs to be promoted more. No, it needs to be standard. Preloaded bloatware is why vendor bought PCs are so garbage and why people are flocking to Macs. If PC vendors just focused on something that worked perfectly out of the box with no BS like Apple does, boom, sales, easy.

Does whatever Dell/HP/Acer/etc get for bloatware really compensate for making Windows look worse than it actually is? It is so shortsighted.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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