Founder Stan Shih and new CEO Jason Chen confess to Acer’s failings, but have little to say about the future
Stan Shih, the founder of computer manufacturer Acer, along with the firm’s latest CEO, has outlined the company’s plans to ensure a return to success at a press conference in Taiwan.
Joined by his latest chief executive, ex-TSMC man Jason Chen, (the third such executive following two resignations in a matter of months) Shih gave a thorough run-down of the company’s past errors as it tries to keep up with companies offering a full range of user devices, but spilled very little on what we can expect from Acer over the coming year.
Chen stated that the Taiwanese company’s biggest mistake was investing too early in touch-panels and Ultrabooks, and not realising the extent to which tablet computers like the Apple iPad would disrupt the PC industry.
“We wanted to stimulate demand using new technology and we took the initiative more aggressively than anybody else, to the point where we got hurt,” Chen (pictured below) said. “Hopefully we won’t repeat the same mistake we made before.”
Trying to keep up
The company recently announced its “Build Your Own Cloud” initiative, which involves packaging software and services with its PCs so that, like Apple, it will make money not just from the initial product sale but from the sale of subsequent digital products.
Acer also says it is building new services on its computers and ways to link them with users’ other devices, and recently took a stake in a Taiwanese online payments company.
As a maker primarily of desktop and laptop computers, Acer has been hit by the continued downturn in this market, with research firm Gartner estimating that overall PC shipments were down 10 percent in 2013 as consumers increasingly utilised mobile and tablet devices at home or at work.
“We need to dig ourselves out of a hole,” Chen told reporters following the conference, according to Bloomberg, “We need to find how to add value to hardware with mail, photo, video and other things we haven’t even seen yet. We’ll start from our competitive advantage and go from there.”
Unfortunately, Gartner’s report found that Acer’s shipments fell nearly 30 percent, in 2013, meaning its market share fell from 10.2 percent in 2012 to 8.1 percent. However, the company performed more encouragingly in the tablet market, where its global market share increased to 2.5 percent in the third quarter of 2013 from less than 1 percent in the same quarter of 2012.
The company posted full-year after-tax losses in 2011 and 2012, and is on track to report similar losses in 2013, recently reporting a loss of T$13.2bn in its third quarter, with sales down 11.8 percent. Stan Shih will be hoping that Jason Chen is the right man to steady the ship and ensure a return to profit soon.
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Originally published on eWeek.