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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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Better stock up on Acer monitors...
By bigdawg1988 on 12/8/2011 4:16:38 PM , Rating: 2
...cause these poor fools are about to go out of business!

Dude, you sell PCs, not Macs. Be thankful for your low profit margins. Work on increasing your margins a few percentage points instead of going the Apple route. Why do you think all the other PC makers sell mostly low margin machines? Because that's the only way to make money selling PCs for the big boys! We buy PCs for value, not style. Only Apple and boutique companies make money selling the high-end; just not enough volume, and it's too late to start over. You're already headed in the wrong direction by copying Macs. No Mac buyers will even look your way, and PC people will laugh at you and buy something else too.

Acer would be better off having a subsidiary that sold high-end computers while they concentrated on squeezing margins on the low-end. I fear this is the beginning of the end for Acer. Darn, and I liked their cheap (but good) monitors too.

RE: Better stock up on Acer monitors...
By spread on 12/8/2011 5:36:21 PM , Rating: 2
You're already headed in the wrong direction by copying Macs. No Mac buyers will even look your way, and PC people will laugh at you and buy something else too.

Even if they make a Franken-Mac looking PC, it would still be nicer than the garbage they are selling now. Terrible, terrible computers and then there's Gateweay and eMachines which are even more low end than Acer.

By Ringold on 12/8/2011 5:50:27 PM , Rating: 2
I know it's just anecdotal, but I've had no luck with an Acer product.

Laptop bought in July, for example. It'd randomly click off and reboot, no apparent error, no apparent pattern that'd lead to it. Could happen at idle, could happen while under 100% load. Sent it back detailing the problem. Their repair center sent the same unit back, saying they found nothing wrong. Wth. At least send me a different unit!

Their loss, though. They made a couple short term dollars off me, lost most of that profit handling the non-repair, and will never get another sale from me.

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