Acer Preparing E-Reader And App Store

Michelle Maisto covers mobile devices, Android and Apple for eWEEK and is also a food writer.

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An Acer executive has confirmed the PC vendor plans to launch an app store, an e-reader, and a netbook running Google’s Chrome

Acer has given an insight into its future product portfolio after an executive revealed that it will launch an e-reader and its own app store by midyear, as well as a netbook running Chrome in the third quarter.

Jim Wong, president of Acer’s IT Products division, told Bloomberg he expects that 12 million of the 15 million netbooks Acer is expected to sell in 2010 will feature Chrome.

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In the fourth quarter of 2009, Acer held the number two PC market share position, shipping 11.4 million units for 13.4 percent market share. Worldwide for the year, however, Dell squeaked past Acer for the No. 2 spot, shipping 38.41 million units to Acer’s 37.37 million units. Market leader HP shipped 59.9 million units worldwide during the year.

Wong additionally said that moving into new product areas will help Acer boost its net income by 3 percent within two years, and that if Acer can figure out how to sell applications, “then the margins can be very lucrative.”

The Acer application store will reportedly offer software to support Google’s Android operating system, which runs on Acer netbooks and smartphones, as well as Microsoft Windows and Windows Mobile operating systems. Later, support for Chrome will be added, and app prices will be free or “low cost.”

The e-reader, scheduled to arrive by the end of June, will feature a 6-inch monochrome screen and initially be available in five European countries.

Amazon, Barnes & Noble; they are US-centric,” Wong told Bloomberg. “In Western Europe and Asia-Pacific we have publishers to work with, and most of them are content owners.”

At the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month, a number of tech companies showed off new e-readers. Apple, with its tablet device expected to be introduced in late January, is also expected to grab a slice of e-reader pie.

According to research firm DisplaySearch, the e-reader market increased from approximately five models in 2007 to approximately 20 in 2009. The firm expects the e-paper display market for e-books and textbooks to increase from roughly 1 million units in 2008 to 77 million units in 2018.

Wong told Bloomberg that Acer is exploring content options with various magazines, newspapers and book publishers, though he refrained from offering specifics.