Acer has taken the cover off its first-ever line of tablet computers. Acer will compete in a market Apple's iPad owns -- and in which Samsung and Research In Motion are competing for second place -- with a somewhat different approach.
Acer will enter the market in early 2011 with not one, not two, but three tablet models. Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system will power one Acer 10.1-inch tablet, while Google's Android OS will run a seven-inch tablet and a second 10.1-inch model.
Acer isn't stopping there with Android. The company also announced a 4.8-inch smartphone that runs Android, as well as a dual 14-inch PC called the Iconia Touchbook. Iconia is a hybrid between a notebook and a touchscreen tablet. The new products mark Acer's move to the next phase of technology.
"Acer is a particularly interesting player," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. "In the desktop and portable computing space, the company was considered to be one of the Asian also-ran companies for years and years. But Acer radically reimagined itself with its move into the netbook space two years ago."
By reimagined, King is referring to Acer's move beyond the conventional wisdom of the notebook market. Acer was quick to market with a variety of netbooks and proved it could compete with larger vendors. In fact, King said, Acer put the big boys on the defensive with its netbook strategy.
"In the tablet market, the conventional wisdom seems to be lined up behind Apple. What's cool about Acer is they've got nothing to lose here," King said. "The tablet market is in its infancy."
Seeing What Sticks
Although Apple has 95 percent of the tablet market, according to Strategy Analytics, there's plenty of room to grow. The firm also predicts that 90 percent of iPad buyers will come from consumers who already own other Apple devices. But with more choices on store shelves, Apple may see its market share erode.
"My hat is off to Apple; selling seven million iPads in its first year is a great performance by any measure, but that seems to ignore the fact that there were basically a million PCs being sold a day worldwide," King said. "The iPad success is sort of a rounding error when compared with that."
Samsung has reportedly sold 600,000 Galaxy Tabs worldwide in its first 30 days on the market. The company predicted it will sell one million tablets before the end of 2010. And RIM's PlayBook is getting some attention from BlackBerry users. It won't go on sale until early 2011, but the company is hopeful. So where does Acer fit into the mix?
"Acer understands the fact that it's early on in the tablet market," King said. "Acer has the development team and the manufacturing capability to throw out a lot of product at one time. If some of them stick and some of them don't, it's not a big deal. That's a wise way to approach this market right now."
Posted: 2010-11-24 @ 5:11am PT
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